EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 22, 2013

An Olympic effort


Any plan for Boston to host the Olympics, and any construction and upgrades needed to pull off the event, must fit into a vision for what Boston and Massachusetts need in the next 30 to 50 years. The point is to make sure the billions of dollars poured into hosting the Olympics also will produce tangible longstanding benefits for the region in housing, transportation and recreation, rather than leaving a scatter of expensive relics.

Committee member state Rep. Cory Atkins, D-Concord, said she visited London, which hosted the Summer Olympics last year, in September for ideas on how to use the massive investment required to host the games to also redevelop a portion of that city.

“I think they’re really the model,” she told the committee Dec. 3. “They used the Olympics as a catalyst for a half-century worth of planning for the city.”

One major issue is, in a densely-populated city like Boston, where to build spaces for the often obscure events and the housing for all the athletes and thousands of staff, spectators, journalists and other tourists who flock to the games.

“I think the (Democratic National Convention) proved a few years ago Boston cannot host a national event alone, and this is an international event,” Bevilacqua said. “Hotel space is critical, transportation is critical, and the Merrimack Valley is ideally located.”

Fish last week said outside-the-box thinking is necessary in planning for the Olympics.

He 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.

Describing himself as “an eternal optimist,” Fish said he sees Boston already stacking up well against the specific criteria required of a host city by the International Olympic Committee, including more than enough hotel rooms within 50 miles of Boston, a high concentration of medical facilities, expert security personnel experienced in handling large events and disasters, energy capacity and telecommunications.

Material from the State House News Service is included in this report.

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