"Menino retreats on plan for waterfront heliport" by John C. Drake, Globe Staff | September 16, 2008
Mayor Thomas M. Menino is backing off a push to build a heliport on the South Boston Waterfront, a proposal that was picking up increased neighborhood opposition ahead of a planned community meeting scheduled for tomorrow.
Menino spokeswoman Dorothy Joyce said the city will instead begin talks with the Massachusetts Port Authority and Governor Deval Patrick's office about lifting some of the restrictions on helicopter flights at Logan Airport.
The mayor backed off the plan to locate the heliport off Summer Street in the 191-acre Marine Industrial park after state Senator Jack Hart told him in a private meeting yesterday that he would publicly oppose the plan at the community gathering, Hart and Joyce said.
"I don't know if this thing was thought through comprehensively," Hart said in a telephone interview last night, ticking off concerns about the proposed location, including increased noise and air pollution in the neighborhood and its proximity to the South Boston cruise ship terminal. "I suggested to him this morning this thing was not going to fly," he said.
The proposed site was used as a temporary helicopter landing spot during the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Joyce said Menino still believes that an additional heliport is needed to allow for quicker medical flights and private transportation. She said that, at Hart's suggestion, city officials will pursue increasing access for helicopters at Logan, including a potential new helipad or refueling stop.
"The mayor is completely on board with looking at other options," Joyce said. "He hasn't changed his position that he believes a heliport is needed in the city of Boston."
Councilor at Large Michael Flaherty, who had been helping stoke opposition to the proposed heliport among South Boston community groups, said the mayor's backing off was a "direct result" of that neighborhood opposition. He said community groups had collected more than 2,500 signatures on petitions opposing the location."This is a great lesson for the administration," said Flaherty, who may oppose Menino in next year's mayoral election. "My hope is that it creates a new standard citywide as it pertains to planning and development.