Sunday, February 15, 2009

Time for Aloisi to step up

There is a report today in the Globe on last week's community meeting about the parking garage that Massport is stuffing down East Boston's throat. The Southwest Service Area proposal (sometimes referred to as the consolidated rental-car facility, or CONRAC) would put 9,000 parking spaces in a 49-acre lot that abuts the Jeffries Point and Mount Carmel residential areas.

Eastie residents have legitimate concerns, but as usual Massport responds with sweet talk. The project's draft environmental impact report, from June 2008, includes comments submitted from the public, and in a smart and detailed letter, former state secretary of transportation Fred Salvucci laid out some of the neighborhood's objections. After noting the specifics, Salvucci writes that:
The long history of unfulfilled environmental commitments should be reviewed and redressed by [the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office] as a prior condition to any processing of the Massport proposal. The relationship between Massport and the adjacent community over the past two decades is littered with unfulfilled commitments, a "bait and switch" pattern of commitments that disappear once Massport gets approval to proceed with terminals, runways, or taxiways, at which point the environmental commitments are never fulfilled.
After listing seven specific broken promises, Salvucci writes:
This behavior pattern makes a mockery of the Environmental Process and can be redressed only by insisting that Massport deliver on prior commitments, prior to being allowed to proceed with any new projects. The non-urgent (and possibly not even useful or desirable) $450 million Southwest Service area proposal is the right place for MEPA to draw a firm line and force Massport to dramatically change its behavior.
Salvucci hits a key point that many newcomers to East Boston or people unfamiliar with the decades-long struggle aren't aware of: Massport lies, and it does so with impunity. Before any big new projects move forward, the agency's pattern of abandoning its promises should be reviewed, after which Massport should be made to live up to its word. Only then can there be discussion of the Logan Airport's future, and the people who live around the airport -- not just those who stand to profit from it -- should have a larger voice in such matters.

I call on Jim Aloisi, the state secretary of transportation, to step in and to hold Massport accountable. He grew up on Chelsea Street in Eastie and is well aware of the history. He has the power to intervene on this matter and to prevent the further trampling of the rights of local residents.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Massport wants to build a mega indoor parking facility behind a residential neighborhood, which includes a brand new stadium park, open green space where local residents from cottage st and upper porter st who enjoy taking strolls and enjoy the fresh air and the new trees the city planted over the last several years, if they build the lets call it toxic fume garage it will impact the quality of everyday living not just from the nasty fumes but from bus and car noise, and all the longtime italian residents who have vegitable gardens in the area,if this thing is built , i would think twice before i plant anything in the back yard.

Anonymous said...

Why does the airport have a central parking facility where people can walk (in covered pedestrian bridges) from the garage to the terminals but we still cannot take the train directly to the airport (as people in RI will when the providence line is extended to TF Green).
It is time for the state and Massport to give us a direct rail link to a central airport T stop, instead of waiting for shuttle buses from airport to battle traffic around the terminals (when they finally come). And dont even bother bringing up the silver bus, that moves glacially around the terminals after fighting traffic in the tunnel and doesnt even connect to the blue line airport stop.

Mary Berninger said...

I, too, hope Mr. Aloisi shows his parochial side by helping this community. However, the continuing incestuous relationships that Massport enjoys with the FAA, the MBTA, the Mass Highway Department, etc., etc., leaves me very concerned that the transportation giants will, once again, get their way and the residents will get the short end of the fairness equation.

While Mr. Aloisi is busy with all things transportation in the Commonwealth, perhaps he could find a way to remedy another Achilles heal for East Boston: get rid of the State Police detail in the afternoons at the intersection of Route 1A and Boardman Street. The genesis for that detail was to pull traffic through the airport roadways before the opening of the Ted Williams tunnel. Now, there seems to be no valid reason to continue that detail. Let the traffic lights do their job and let the trooper get back to more necessary tasks. Of course, this is another problem that residents have been complaining about for years, who no response from Massport (Tom Butler, Anthony Guerriero, Cathy Leonard-McLean and others have known about this for years,)Mass Highway, or elected officials. That traffic light does more good for the North Shore-bound commuters than it ever does for East Boston residents who are trying to enter and exit their own community.

James said...

I just love the sad irony that as a backdrop to all of the controversy around this project, Massport selected Parsons Brinckerhoff as the contractor for the project. How can we continue to take this seriously when the same firm that contributed to sub-par construction on the Big Dig is rewarded with another state contract? Is there no other firm in the country that we could have used for this project?

I am generally a pretty liberal, pro-government guy, but it makes me want to vomit in my mouth when I see our state continue to make senseless decisions like this that are so easily avoided.

Mary Berninger said...

Are we engaging in another "community process," only to find that Massport will get what it wants? Probably. After all, look at what happened with the house at 18 Neptune Road? Massport initially told residents that the FAA would not allow a "point of assembly" any where near a runway protection zone. Well, now that Massport has convinced historical and preservation groups to swallow Massport's concession of archival photos and descriptions, the Memorandum of Agreement states that the FAA doesn't want "residential" structures in the runway protection zone. Such a convenient change of wording. So, essentially, Massport's own "points of assembly" can stay where they are, but residential structures are expendable to the FAA and Massport.

I urge everyone to go to eastboston.com and sign the petition to save that building. The process with Massport will only achieve one thing: Massport will create a passive area in the neighborhood, only to save the acreage for future development and expansion of the airport, if Massport so desires. How many other tracts of land will suffer the same fate? The past months saw Massport pay $4 million (I believe that to be the price) for a large amount of property near Belle Isle Seafood. If they keep that up, they will encircle the neighborhood further: property on McClellan Highway, Saratoga Street, Neptune Road...I wonder where it will all end? Will our grandchildren finally see the end of East Boston when it will all become just Logan Airport? We know Massport isn't truly committed to regionalization, so East Boston will continue to be the scapegoat.

I find it amazing that Massport is spending $30 million on the design component of this project, which will cost approximately $450 million to complete. Lowell Richards and Tom Butler, et al, told a community group that the contractor was chosen because of its "expertise" in designing these behemoth parking garages. Well, if they are such experts, don't they already possess blueprints for other garages they have designed and built? Why does $30 million have to be spent to reinvent the wheel? I should think that an existing plan could be tweaked to fit the footprint at Logan. I thought these fiscal times called for greater restraint and greater scrutiny for choosing contractors.

I can't help but compare the choice of contractor to what President Obama's team said about the Secretary of the Treasury: he had to be chosen, since he was the only one with the ability to do the job. I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now. There must be other contractors who could be hired so that it doesn't appear that one with such a checkered past in the Commonwealth is gaining financially.

Just a few ramblings, Jim, about subjects that are frustrating, to say the least.