Nearly 300 people filled the cafeteria at the Condon School on Tuesday night for a community meeting to hear about the proposed Boston 2024 Olympic bid. Boston Redevelopment Authority Project Manager John Fitzgerald proceeded over the meeting and introduced the panel of Chairman John Fish from Suffolk Construction, Richard Davey, CEO of Boston 2024, David Manfredi, an architect working on Boston 2024. The panel all-star of the night was Dave Silk – token Olympian and member of the of the 1980 USA Miracle on Ice hockey team. It was also the 35th anniversary of the gold medal win.
The meeting kicked off with John Fish and his dream of bringing the Olympics to Boston. He reminisced about his childhood, dyslexia and how “sport” helped him become the success he is today. Yes, he referred to youth sports as “sport” a la Mitt Romney on the presidential campaign trail.
Richard Davey took the stage and discussed how Boston could deliver a cost effective Olympic games. The total cost estimated is $9.1 billon. Davey then introduced Silk which caused the crowd to erupt into a U-S-A chant. Silk even pulled out the gold medal and wore it as he told the crowd how life-changing the Olympics were to him.
Next up was Manfredi and a brief presentation of the venues which oddly did not include the Boston Convention Center venue, the Castle Island sailing spectator area or the Fort Point Channel’s International Broadcasting Center – a 29 acre project. What was shown to us was the proposed Wydett Circle stadium, the UMass Boston Olympic Village and strangely the Franklin Park area projects.
City Council President Bill Linehan and State Representative Nick Collins spoke briefly before the Q&A section of the meeting and both seemed to be in support of the Boston 2024 bid.
The questions ran the gamut from the MBTA to sex trafficking and quality of life issues for the residents of South Boston like traffic and parking. Standout of the night for Q&A section was Bill “Touchie” McDonough – lifelong Southie resident and owner of Touches’ Shamrock Pub. He described South Boston as a peninsula with the Olympic venues encompassing the neighborhood and wanted to know how would the people of South Boston be able to get in and out of town. Clearly fed up with overdevelopment, he wanted to know when the people of South Boston were going to get anything in return. “We want two parking garages and angled parking along the beach,” demanded McDonough which caused loud cheers from the audience.
In the same vein of traveling in and around South Boston, Fort Point resident John Keith touched upon security during the 2004 Democratic National Convention and the fact Mayor Menino suggested residents take a week off of work if you worked downtown. The issue of who would be in charge of security Boston Police or the federal government was brought to light.
Mayor Marty Walsh arrived an hour and a half into the meeting.
The question of a referendum was offered up by a self-proclaimed “transplant” to Mayor Walsh. He responded that he would not stand in the way and stated that this was addressed in the new updated bid agreement.
Southie resident Chris Hurld expressed his concern that two sides of the conversation are not being represented. “Typically when I think of a conversation I don’t think of five guys who all agree with each other,” Hurld said. “So, moving forward I really do hope that there will be something more substantive. I’d like to see you have some people that represent some of the organizations that are on the other side of this question.”
- First thing we noticed, lots of construction union presence in the form of men in work boots. Some from South Boston. Some not.
- Davey rolled his eyes a lot and became visibly agitated by some of the questions and concerns.
- Silk skipped out the meeting as soon as he was done showing his gold medal.
- Paralympian Cheri Blauwet and Boston 2024 co-chair was in attendance but not introduced until after she left.
- No Boston 2024 were present at the meeting
- According to twitter, some people felt intimidated to speak out against the Olympic bid due to union presence.
- No questions were really answered at this meeting, therefore no one really knows what the final proposal will look like. Often questions were answered with vague non-answers.
- A card was distributed to attendees thanking us for our civic engagement and included some helpful contact information like the following:
Email questions and concerns to John Fitzgerald at [email protected]
To join the mailing list, you can text your email address to 617-431-4100
To contact Boston 2024 directly you can email [email protected] or visit their website at www.2024boston.org. You can follow them on twitter at @Boston2024
Another neighbor meeting will take place in Fort Point on Tuesday, March 3rd at the Fort Point Neighborhood Association meeting at the Children’s Museum – 308 Congress Street on the Fifth Floor Dewey/Suess Conference Room from 6pm-7:30pm.
Take our Weekly Poll – are you in support of Boston hosting the Olympics in 2024? https://caughtinsouthie.com/poll/are-support-boston-hosting-olympics-2024