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Boston and Beyond

December 19, 2013

'Outside the box thinking' needed for Olympics bid

BOSTON — Leading a commission to explore the feasibility of hosting the 2024 summer Olympics in Greater Boston, Suffolk Construction Chairman and CEO John Fish yesterday said planners should be creative in thinking about how to address housing and transportation needs.

“What about a gondola? Maybe we go up instead of down and build something temporary,” Fish told the State House News Service after meeting with the commission, using the idea as an example of outside-the-box thinking he says is necessary in planning for the Olympics.

Fish also told commissioners that building a 16,000-person Olympic Village and a dining hall to accommodate 5,000 athletes in metro Boston may not require major new construction of permanent housing. “Density would be overwhelming long-term, which is why I want to talk about prefabrication and modular,” he said.

The special commission created by the Legislature to explore the prospects for hosting the 2024 summer Olympics met at the State House yesterday, outlining steps it will take to meet its March 1 deadline for a final report. The commission also heard presentations on economic development and transportation as it considers whether the state’s long-term plans align with the requirements of being an Olympic host city.

Fish said regardless of whether Boston ultimately hosts the games the process of thinking about the needs of the city of Boston and beyond over the next 10 years will be a valuable exercise for the commission, including exploring the “legacy” that policy leaders would want the Olympics to leave behind after the games are over.

At its next meeting on Jan. 6, the commission will hear from Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Executive Director James Rooney, Massport CEO Thomas Glynn, and a representative from the Boston Redevelopment Authority on the capacity of the city and its facilities. Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins, a member of the commission, will discuss security.

MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank DePaola gave a presentation on the major infrastructure projects in the works for the next 10 years, including the extensions of the Green Line, South Coast rail, the expansion of South Station, and highway work to improve bottlenecks at the I-93 and I-95 interchanges in Woburn and Canton, as well as the Allston-Brighton toll plaza.

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