“Some of those old-time activists, they don't trust Massport. But this is the new Massport."
— Piers Park Advisory Committee member Sal LaMattina
Boston Globe, August 8, 2004

“Is the ‘new’ Massport open-minded enough to try a market approach first?
— Scott Lehigh on Peak Pricing
Boston Globe, April 6, 2001

“Any recommendations for a new Massport that ignores that balance will only serve to recreate the Massport of old.”
— Massport Acting Director Virginia Buckingham
Boston Globe, December 1, 2001

“The media has continued to suggest that the ‘new’ Massport of Peter Blute has learned from the prior administration's mistakes of Stephen Tocco
— SAND Comment, March 2, 1999


Boston Globe, The (MA) August 6, 2004


Christine MacDonald, Globe Correspondent

[PUBLISHED CORRECTION - DATE: Saturday, August 7, 2004: Correction : Because of a reporting error, a story in yesterday's City & Region section about a legislative plan to give the Massachusetts Port Authority title to a new park in East Boston incorrectly reported that Governor Mitt Romney has until Aug. 18 to act on the bill. He has until Aug. 10.)

East Boston activists are urging Governor Mitt Romney to veto a section of a transportation bond bill that would give the Massachusetts Port Authority title to a new 18-acre park in the neighborhood.

Massport would pay $1 to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority for the Bremen Street Park once construction is complete, according to the wording of the bill, which the Legislature passed July 31. A previous draft called for Massport to pay for the park's operation under contract with the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the City of Boston.

East Boston activists and environmentalists said they learned of the changes yesterday and mobilized a campaign of phone calls and e-mails to urge the governor to veto the section of the bill.

Romney spokeswoman Jodi Charles said the governor was still reviewing the measure and could not comment on specific sections. He has until Aug. 18 to act on the bill, Charles said. (SEE CORRECTION ABOVE.)

Neighborhood activists and environmentalists are concerned that Massport could one day bulldoze the park and use the land for other purposes, said Valerie Burns, president of the Boston Natural Areas Network. She noted that such a move would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to override an article in the state constitution. "The Legislature overrides Article 97 several times every year, so it would be difficult but not impossible," said Burns, who also questioned whether Massport has the experience necessary to manage a larger city park.

Massport operates Piers Park, which it built on the East Boston waterfront in the mid-1990s to make amends for having bulldozed houses and open space for Logan Airport runways in the 1960s. It also recently built a new maritime park in South Boston, which is maintained under a private contract.

The Turnpike Authority is building the new park in East Boston as part of a mitigation agreement for the Central Artery/Tunnel project. It will span several blocks between residential Bremen Street and Route 1A, which skirts the airport.

Barbara Platt, a Massport spokeswoman, said the authority did not seek the deed to the park, but without Massport owning the property, the agency's federal funders and private bondholders would have objected to paying for its maintenance.

"It is not Massport's intention to operate it as anything else than a park permanently," Platt said.

East Boston activists have been at odds with Massport since the airport expanded into the neighborhood decades ago, destroying parkland designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

"It goes against everything we've been fighting for 35 years," said Mary Ellen Welch, an East Boston activist who has been involved in planning the park.

Wendy Zinn, executive director of the East Boston branch of the YMCA of Greater Boston Inc., which will break ground next month on a new facility inside the park, was upbeat. "I think the East Boston community is so pleased with Piers Park that this is really going to enhance the Bremen Street Park," Zinn said.

Sal LaMattina, who represents Mayor Thomas M. Menino on the Piers Park Advisory Committee, said he was thrilled that Massport had agreed to own and operate what will be a dramatic addition to the open space of a densely populated urban neighborhood.

"The city, we couldn't afford to maintain it," LaMattina said. "Some of those old-time activists, they don't trust Massport. But this is the new Massport."

Copyright (c) 2004 Globe Newspaper Company

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