In the wake of the United States Olympic Committee’s decision to nix Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games, the city and its people reacted in a fashion reminiscent of the Wicked Witch death dance from The Wizard of Oz. It was a moment of relief and victory. The dragon had been slain, the money-sucking vampire vanquished.
Said excitement notwithstanding, anybody who believed the death of those dreams meant the bid will disappear are sorely mistaken. Our Mayor, Marty “I care about the taxpayer” Walsh, seems keen on keeping the zombie 2024 plans in play. This comes as no surprise to those keeping track of his big hopes for Widett Circle, but the strategy appears to go beyond that area.
In April, Boston hired Sara Myerson (Ed. note: be sure to check the update at the end of this Free Radical) to direct their made-up Office of Olympic Planning, a would-be watchdog tasked with poring over documents to locate risk and reward. In practice, Bostonians overwhelmingly rejected Boston 2024, but Myerson appears to see things differently. In lockstep with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, she feels the leftovers are capable of fueling “the Imagine Boston 2030 discussion,” as a Walsh spokesperson told the Boston Herald.
Again: despite a resounding “no” from the people of Boston, who were appalled at the lack of community input throughout the bid process, major development remains a top-down process guided by the city’s elite. In his role, Walsh is sticking with ideas that were rejected. Why? Like his spokesperson also told the Herald: “Millions of private dollars were spent on the Olympic plans, and it’s critical that we take advantage of that work to move Boston forward.”
Those claims aside, the city doesn’t need whatever scraps of the bid that Walsh and his Boston 2024 pals want to salvage for their Frankenstein. What’s needed is legitimate community involvement, planning from the bottom on up. The process won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap or fast. But like the people behind the Boston Olympic bid will probably tell you, it’s hard to manifest success when working in a rush behind closed doors.
UPDATE: Amazingly, but not surprisingly, less than a day after this week’s DigBoston hit the street, the City of Boston announced the following. We assume they didn’t read Emily’s column …