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OLYMPIC STADIUM AT SUFFOLK DOWNS? ANY PLAN FOR THE SITE MUST
MEET COMMUNITY PRINCIPLES, APPROVAL

Community group reiterates five guiding principles for development 

EAST BOSTON, Feb. 2, 2015—As Mohegan Sun joins a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the President of Boston2024 suggests that Suffolk Downs could be an alternative site for the proposed Olympic stadium, a community group is doubling down on its commitment to ensuring that any future development of the Suffolk Downs parcel must meet certain principles – one of which is East Boston approval.

EastBoston2030, a largely East Boston-based group of urban planners, architects, public infrastructure experts, and representatives of various community groups, formed after the November 5, 2013, election in which East Boston voters rejected a casino at the 161-acre site at Suffolk Downs. The group is re-releasing its vision for the parcel in light of news reports that the site may be pursued to build an Olympic stadium, should Boston be selected as host city for the 2024 Games and planners’ first choice for a stadium, Widett Circle, fall through.

“We are not taking a formal position on whether or not Boston should play host to the Olympics, only underscoring our assertion that whatever is proposed for that parcel must meet certain standards and gain support from East Boston residents,” said Giordana Mecagni, a co-founder and leader in the group.

The group’s two-page vision statement, titled “Overarching Principles For Development in East Boston,” outlines five principles by which all future significant development proposals in East Boston – and Suffolk Downs in particular – should be measured. The five principles – permanent job creation, community inclusion and a transparent process, environmental impact, transit-oriented development, and economic feasibility – present a framework to ensure that this critical and unique site is developed in a way that enhances quality of life by creating permanent 21st century jobs, improving transit oriented mobility and ensuring no degradation to the environmentally sensitive site. Recently, the group called on the five candidates in the special election for State Representative to endorse the vision.

“Although Suffolk Downs is privately owned, it is supported by a highway and transit system owned and operated by the state and paid for by the taxpayers of Massachusetts,” said Jim Aloisi, a former state Transportation Secretary, native of East Boston, and founding group member. “It is only fair and just that any major development on its grounds be thoroughly vetted by local citizenry and surrounding communities. We hope these principles, which express a positive and forward-looking vision for the future of this site and community, will be embraced by a broad spectrum of state and local decision makers. Ours is a constructive vision, and we are eager to engage with those who appreciate the potential for this site to bring transformative change to the community, the city and the region.”

What’s more, with the track recently allowed to continue pari mutuel betting absent live racing, and this week’s news that Mohegan Sun would be joining a lawsuit against the state’s gaming commission, some may think the door remains cracked for casino development at Suffolk Downs. Not so, say the group’s leaders.

“The people of East Boston have rejected a casino in our community — twice,” Mecagni said. “We look forward to working with Suffolk Downs’ landowners and any future developer to ensure that the parcel becomes something that creates jobs, includes and benefits all community members, is environmentally sustainable and transit-oriented, and is economically feasible. These are non-negotiables.”

A full version of the  “Overarching Principles For Development in East Boston” can be found at www.eastboston2020.com.  For more information, please contact east.boston.visioning@gmail.com.

FORMER SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION AND LOCAL URBAN DEVELOPMENT EXPERTS ANNOUNCE NEW VISION FOR FUTURE PLANNING OF THE SUFFOLK DOWNS SITE

Community group offers five guiding principles for development 

BOSTON, Mass., September 17, 2014 — Led by former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Jim Aloisi, a largely East Boston-based group of urban planners, architects, public infrastructure experts, and representatives of various community groups propose an alternative vision to the proposed casino at Suffolk Downs.

This group, formed after the November 5, 2013 election in which East Boston voters rejected the creation of a casino at Suffolk Downs, has been working toward developing a new vision for the development of the 161 acre site.   The group is releasing this document in light of Sterling Suffolk LLC’s recent decision to close track operations next year.

The group’s two-page guidance titled “Overarching Principles For Development in East Boston” outlines five principles by which all future significant development proposals in East Boston – and Suffolk Downs in particular – should be measured. The principles, including job creation, community inclusion and a transparent process, environmental impact, transit-oriented development, and economic feasibility, present a framework to ensure that this critical and unique site is developed in a way that enhances quality of life, job creation and return on investment for all residents of Boston and surrounding communities.

“Although Suffolk Downs is privately owned, it is supported by a highway and transit system owned and operated by the state and paid for by the taxpayers of Massachusetts,” said Aloisi, a native of East Boston and whose parents still live in the neighborhood. “It is only fair and just that any major development on its grounds be thoroughly vetted by local citizenry and surrounding communities. We hope these principles, which express a positive and forward looking vision for the future of this site and community will be embraced by a broad spectrum of state and local decision makers.”

As many real estate and other investment experts contend, the Suffolk Downs site offers a wealth of development possibilities beyond a casino. For example, Banker and Tradesman recently noted that “At a time when home and condo prices are soaring out of reach for middle class families in Boston, Suffolk’s 110 or so Boston acres are a huge potential asset, ground zero for the Hub’s next big mixed-use neighborhood of shops and homes.” (1)

Desirable factors such as quick access to downtown Boston, Logan Airport and the emerging Innovation District in South Boston via the Blue Line and soon the Silver Line, as well as a shared economic center for the communities of East Boston, Revere and Winthrop make Suffolk Downs an exceptional candidate for a mix of housing and commercial development opportunities, according to the group. Also, the adjacent Belle Isle Marsh provides abundant green space and offers potential connections to the East Boston Greenway.

A full version of the  “Overarching Principles For Development in East Boston” can be found at  https://sites.google.com/site/eastboston2020/.  For more information, please contacteast.boston.visioning@gmail.com

(1) Banker and Tradesman, “Forget Gambling: Suffolk Downs Has Mixed-Use Development Potential” Sunday, November 17, 2013 http://www.bankerandtradesman.com/news157396.html

 

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