The following testimony was presented orally on March 2 (written form to follow) to Boston City Council regarding the impact of Massport's newly proposed expansion plan on the South Boston Seaport District.
Present at this hearing were a majority of Boston City Councilors, including Council President Jim Kelly (South Boston), Councilor Peggy Davis-Mullen (South Boston) and Councilor Mickey Roache (South Boston), South Boston Residents Group President Bill Bailey. Longtime community representative Anastasia Lyman (Jamaica Plain), whose research on Logan Airport was particulary useful in SAND's testimony, was present.
Massport Executive Director Peter Blute and Massport officials were present.
Boston City Councilors and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino have registered unanimous opposition to the Massport runway expansion program, citing the need for secondary airports to shift the burden caused by burgeoning demand from outlying suburbs. Also cited were the negative impacts on Boston neighborhoods. Massport, a State Authority, is not governed by City of Boston and has stated that it will proceed with the expansion -- carefully referred to by Massport in its public relations effort as its "Delay Reduction Program".
Join SAND members on Monday March 29, along with residents of South Boston, East Boston, Winthrop, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Dorchester in a State House Rally opposing the Logan Expansion -- click here to visit the Calendar!
Councilor Paul Schappichio: Please state your name.
My name is Steve Hollinger of South Boston and I represent the Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design, a community group based in the Fort Point Channel Neighborhood of South Boston. Our community group of residents and business owners has worked dilligently to help plan for the future of the South Boston waterfront -- an area we envision will serve the City in the future as a vital and vibrant neighborhood, a neighborhood for which there is currently no vocal constituency. This is an area in which taxpayers have made a $10 Billion investment including $4 Billion for new transit and infrastructure and $4 Billion in Harbor cleanup.
I would like to address two issues:
A) Massport as a neighbor
B) Massport's treatment of Airport Expansion as a public relations exercise
The media has continued to suggest that the "new" Massport of Peter Blute has learned from the prior administration's mistakes of Stephen Tocco, and has become a good neighbor.
Massport is not a good neighbor.
When Massport has a project proposal, whether it is this runway project at Logan, a South Boston hotel, a waterfront office tower, the impacted communities are approached with the following assumptions by Mr. Blute, Mr. Forsberg and Massport's team of well-connected consultants:
1) This project is going to happen and that can not be questioned
2) Some money is available to pay to the community in order to get the project done.
Massport clearly does not believe it needs public approval. The agency does not understand that citizens often have an educated and valid reason for opposing or questioning a proposal. Instead, every community meeting with Massport, and I have been to many, is choreographed as a public relations exercise.
As further evidence of Massport's disdain for the public process, the agency recently announced that it had failed to come to agreement with the City of Boston on a Memorandum of Understanding that would require the agency to comply with a full Article 80 review of its projects. Massport is unwilling to have its commercial and speculative real-estate projects reviewed as any other developer would, and is able to develop any project free of zoning and other ordinances.
With regard to this specific project, the addition of runway 14/32, Massport has conveniently avoided the fact that the most significant problems associated with the proposal are not related to the new runway. The addition of runway 14/32 alleviates traffic on existing runways and those existing runways increase in commercial capacity. Important numbers associated with the increase in capacity are not revealed in the Massport ENF filing.
Our group has been involved in the planning of the South Boston waterfront along with a number of area residents and business owners. We have learned that the numbers of flights using Runway 27 will increase from 18,000 departures today, to 56,000 departures in the year 2010.
[ Quotation from Jamaica Plain Gazette -- At the Airside Review Committe meeting on February 11, Lyman said that Massport finally agreed "on the record" that flights over Jamaica Plain could increase to 56,000 a year by 2010. Lyman came up with the number by working with the data in a Massport environmental impact study. Blute said Lyman and her group are looking at the "worst case scenario."]
And of course, we should just trust Massport that they won't ever achieve full capacity.
Furthermore, the Massport proposal does not consider the South Boston waterfront, or the impacts of its flightpath.
Flights departing from Runway 27 sweep over Fan Pier, through the Fort Point Channel and onto Andrews Square before approaching other Boston neighborhoods. Considering the fact that Runway 27 will triple in capacity of flights over the Seaport District, one would expect that Massport would have informed Seaport District property owners along with owners of property in the Fort Point Channel and Andrews Square. No meetings have been held for the benefit of these impacted neighborhoods. Are the McCourts, the Pritzkers, the Lemles, Stephen Karp, the Boston Wharf Company, Gillette among others knowledgable about the impacts? The private owners of my building on Melcher Street are unaware that the building is under the runway 27 flight path and that I watch the flights through the skylights in my studio.
I would ask the City Council to consider funding a program for community consultants to determine the impact of these flights on property values in the South Boston Seaport District. The cost to a community is more than the cost of noiseproofing windows. Residents, office workers, hotel workers, and pedestrians should be able to enjoy a summer breeze on the South Boston waterfront and Massport is not capable of compensating these people for the depreciation of their surroundings.
The profoundly important flight impact information, missing in Massport's environmental filing, will certainly result in legal challenges.
In conclusion, I would like to suggest that Massport is simply trying to avoid heavy lifting. Logan Airport serves Boston well. But it also serves greater Boston, the 128 loop, the 495 loop and beyond. It is time for Massport to understand that the burden of outlying areas is far too great for Logan's capacity and that alternative airports must be considered.
Your comments as a visitor to the SAND website would be appreciated and forwarded for discussion.