Revere Does Not Have to Sit Still for Being a Cog in the Olympic Dream Machine

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Right now, after enduring weeks of cruel and unusual punishment on the rolling gulag that is the MBTA, I kind of like the idea of Boston hosting the Olympics.  It might be the only reason we’ll ever fix the T.

On the other hand, I will with any luck be retired by the time the Olympics rolls around in 2024. By then, my concerns about wait times at Oak Grove Station should be strictly academic. 
Also, how can I embrace the idea of a Boston Olympics as long as the Games seem to be at odds with the best interests of the City of Revere, where I was raised and where my heart lies?

The Boston 2024 Committee is eyeing Suffolk Downs as a back-up site for the Olympic Stadium if its first choice, some land off the expressway in South Boston, falls through. 
I guess that means the folks in Revere who are hoping to turn the no-longer-necessary racetrack into something new and exciting, something that capitalizes on the site’s proximity to the Blue Line and Revere Beach, something welcoming and good for hard-working families, something that permanently widens the tax base, will have to put their hopes on indefinite hold.  Or maybe not.

If you’re Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo, you are probably not going to allow one of your city’s biggest potential assets to lie fallow because persons who will never live and vote in Revere might need it to realize their dreams of international glory.
Mayor Rizzo at least has to consider the possibility of scoring political points at the expense of outsiders who presume to decide the best way to use some prime real estate in his city.

It would be easy for Mayor Rizzo to convene a news conference and announce that (a) the city is working closely with the owners of Suffolk Downs to come up with the smartest and most productive new uses for the site, (b) it is impossible to determine at this time if an Olympic Stadium would be either smart or productive, and (c) you are recommending that the owners of Suffolk Downs avoid any agreement with Boston 2024 until all viable proposals are carefully considered and compared to one another.   He might want to throw in a comment to the effect of: “The chairman of the Boston 2024 Committee is welcome to call our City Planner at any time.”
Meanwhile in East Boston, a group of activists has promulgated a “vision statement” for their community that addresses the redevelopment of Suffolk Downs, a good portion of which lies in East Boston.

The statement, entitled “Overarching Principles for Development in East Boston,” is the work of East Boston 2020, a group mainly composed of elements that defeated a pro-Suffolk Downs casino referendum in November, 2013.  It contains “five principles by which all future significant development proposals in East Boston – and Suffolk Downs in particular – should be measured.”  Those principles are: permanent job creation, community inclusion and a transparent process, environmental impact, transit-oriented development, and economic feasibility.
East Boston 2020 is fortunate to have at its disposal the energy and intellectual firepower of Attorney Jim Aloisi, an East Boston native and a former Secretary of Transportation in the Governor Patrick administration.  He was quoted in a recent press release from the group, (“Olympic Stadium at Suffolk Downs? Any Plan for the Site Must Meet Community Principles, Approval,” 2/2/15), as follows:

“Although Suffolk Downs is privately owned, it is supported by a highway and transit system owned and operated by the state and paid for by the taxpayers of Massachusetts.  It is only fair and just that any major development on its grounds be thoroughly vetted by local citizenry and surrounding communities.  We hope these principles, which express a positive and forward-looking vision for the future of this site and community, will be embraced by a broad spectrum of state and local decision makers.  Ours is a constructive vision, and we are eager to engage with those who appreciate the potential for this site to bring transformative change to the community, the city and the region.”
Long before the great athletes of all nations parade into an Olympic stadium in Massachusetts, average citizens will troop into meeting after meeting to “thoroughly vet” the sites proposed for the various Olympic events.  That will be as it should be. 

Greece gave the world both the Olympics and democracy.  Of those two wonderful ideas, it’s not hard to say which is the most important.










No comments:

Post a Comment