Franklin Park added to Olympics bid without local input

November 21, 2014
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Franklin Park has been added to the venue list for Boston’s 2024 Summer Olympics bid without any public input or notice.

The plan—created by a private committee called Boston 2024—proposes building equestrian event facilities in the park, and rebuilding White Stadium to host the pentathlon. While the plan could change, the bidding process begins shortly.

The plan was created entirely privately and secretly, and still has not been released in print form. No one local was consulted, including the Franklin Park Coalition, the park’s nonprofit friends group.

“We’ve just read about it in the Globe,” FPC Executive Director Christine Poff told the Gazette.

“The Franklin Park Coalition board would take a vote to support or oppose use of the park for the Olympics if it becomes real,” she said. “At present, many of our members and constituents are torn. They would like to see Franklin Park receive investment and attention, but not at the expense of community park use,” she said.

Boston 2024 spokesperson David Wedge confirmed to the Gazette that Franklin Park is one venue under consideration for equestrian events, but emphasized that before any final decisions are made, an “open and transparent community review process” would take place.

The current plan was presented to Mayor Martin Walsh and key City officials during a briefing late last month, then shown to a select group of journalists. The Gazette was not among the media invited. The plan is not publicly available.

The proposed use of Franklin Park was reported in the Boston Globe and BostInno, among other media. Many other venues are proposed elsewhere, including an Olympic stadium in South Boston.

Suffolk Construction chief John Fish, who created Boston 2024, last year proposed renovating White Stadium in Franklin Park, similarly with no local input, without mentioning his Olympics interest.

Boston has been shortlisted as a possible U.S. host for the 2024 games, along with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Jamaica Plain-based City Councilor Matt O’Malley has been a supporter of exploring the possibility.

For more about the Boston 2024 committee, see its website at 2024boston.org.

An organization opposing Boston’s bid, called No Boston Olympics, also has been active, drawing attention to the financial failings of Olympics held elsewhere. Its website is nobostonolympics.org.

The U.S. Olympic Committee will next select a finalist to support as the official U.S. Olympics bid by 2015. The International Olympic Committee (OIC) will then select from worldwide applicants in 2017.

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