The proposed helipad to accommodate General Electric and other businesses was a hot topic at a meeting held at the Boston World Trade Center last Monday night. All indications are that if community input carries any clout in 2017, the final approval of the plan could be in for some rough sailing. A crowd of people turned out to share their views on the project, including City and State officials, business owners and a large representation of neighborhood residents from South Boston.
If approved, the helipad would be located on a site near the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park near the South Boston Waterfront. The estimated cost comes in at as low as $2 million dollars and as high as $12 million. State funding would go towards the construction. These funds are said to be part of a $120 million-dollar incentive that has been designated in an effort to lure GE and all the potential jobs it could possibly bring to Boston.
The meeting, though controlled and civil, became a bit hot at times with passionate opposition being expressed from a wide array of interests and concerns. Boston City Councilor and potential candidate for mayor Tito Jackson who is opposed to the plan stated “If they want a helipad, they can build it with their own money (a reference made to GE), not with our money and not on our watch.” His statement brought applause from many in the crowd.
Laura McDonagh, a South Boston resident who has been a vocal opponent of the helipad also made a statement which brought applause and support from many in the crowd when she said “It’s a five-minute ride through the damn tunnel and if we can use the tunnel, GE can use it.” This was in reference to the Ted Williams Tunnel which is a direct route from the airport to the waterfront area and the site in question.
Some of the other stated reasons for the opposition were that Helicopters don’t obey the designated flight plans and the noise would be a detriment to area businesses and the cost to taxpayers which some believe is not needed because of the close proximity to the airport.
A statement from Mayor Marty Walsh’s office as reported in the Boston Herald regarding the issue reads as follows: “The city looks forward to engaging in a conversation with state officials and the community about bringing a public heliport to Boston as part of a comprehensive effort to support business growth and prioritize public safety and emergency preparedness”. But Joe Slavet, the former head of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau stated that he doesn’t believe that building the proposed helipad would be a benefit to the general public.
At this point it’s not known, at least officially and publically if the heliport will become a reality. Will both sides dig in their heels and hold firm to their positions? Can a compromise be reached on the issue? It seemed apparent at Monday’s meeting that a wide gap remains and further discussions will hopefully be forthcoming.