The following comments were presented verbally (2/18/98) and in writing (2/19/98) to Boston City Council at a hearing regarding an upcoming vote on Convention Center legislation. The legislation asks the City Council to approve the City's share of the Convention Center's cost. Of the estimated total cost of $700 million, the legislation asks the City of Boston to fund $157.8 million. The City Council votes on this bill on March 11, 1998.



2/18/98 via Federal Express

Docket #0348 City Council
Boston City Council
Boston City Hall

Our community group, the Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND), represents a growing number of South Boston-area residents, business owners, planners and architects who share a collective vision of the Seaport District as a vibrant neighborhood - one that would reflect Boston's historic relationship with the harbor. We recognize the importance of community involvement in urban planning issues, and expect our elected officials to represent our concerns.

SAND has considered the City Council's upcoming March 11th Convention Center vote. Although we are not opposed to the Convention Center, we have a short list of concerns that must be considered as the City seeks to expedite approval of the Convention Center project:

Fiscal responsibility and long-term planning: By funding the Convention Center through projected hotel occupancies, the City is placing an unsuitable risk on taxpayers, should there be an unexpected downturn in tourist economy. Furthermore, by financing the Convention Center through hotel occupancy projections, the City will be forced to fast-track commitments to hotel developers prior to the completion of a Seaport District Master plan. Our group continues to stress the potential of the Seaport District as a vibrant harborside neighborhood serving residents and conventioneers alike -not simply a Manhattanized Hotel and Office District.

Local Impacts: Mitigation, transportation and traffic control concerns have been voiced repeatedly by residents and business owners, but have not been addressed. Cargo and conventioneers will be moving through these neighborhoods to and from greater Boston, and the planned infrastructure modifications do not appear to accomodate pedestrian and vehicular traffic along Summer Street, D Street, the South Boston Haul Road and other thoroughfares.

Community involvement: To our knowledge, only one public South Boston meeting was held by the BRA in 1997 (December, Tynan School) to discuss the Convention Center. No meetings were held in the Fort Point Channel for the benefit of hundreds of abutters living and working in this neighborhood. In February 1998, two public meetings have been hastily scheduled in South Boston in anticipation of the March 11th City Council vote.

In conclusion, SAND would welcome the Convention Center to Boston. Our position remains, however, that the City is moving forward quickly without adequately considering the long-term potential of the entire Seaport District and its surrounding communities. We look forward to being involved in this process and appreciate your efforts.