A month after signing a “letter of intent” with the city, state, and three public authorities to move ahead with plans for a Labor Day Weekend full of racing on Seaport District streets, Grand Prix Boston gained a new opposition group Tuesday with a splashy website.
NoGrandPrixBoston.org doesn’t say who’s behind the site, and NECN could not independently confirm the identity of a person who responded to e-mail queries on behalf of the group and who wasn’t available for an on-camera interview before the deadline for this story to be edited and broadcast. The site includes a letter to Mayor Martin J. Walsh urging him to cancel the planned race, saying in part: “We foresee a great deal of disruption and chaos that will occur in our neighborhood before, during, and after the race.’’
Grand Prix is planning to have Indy-style cars racing at speeds approaching 200 m.p.h. on a 2.2-mile course that includes parts of D and Congress Streets and the Haul Road, including a section that will pass under the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The letter of intent states that no city, state, or public authority money will be used to pay for the event, and Grand Prix will take responsibility for restoring all city streets after the race weekend.
The No Indy Car group says it fears there could be 4 to 6 months of construction shutting down streets, Interstate 90 on- and off-ramps, and MBTA stations, including the removal of the median on Congress Street and widening of Cypher Street, at the west end of the BCEC. It’s also concerned about crowds of up to 200,000, many of them consuming alcohol, and race-car noise they assert could reach 140 decibels. “This race is completely disruptive of our lives for an inordinate period of time – several months of disruption every year for 5 years or longer,” the group says, “is far too long to bear.’’
Grand Prix Boston rejected many of these concerns as “not founded in fact’’ and said: “We’ve continued to meet with residents, abutters, business owners, neighborhood associations, and literally anyone else who has requested information from us. We have a community page right on our website outlining the community groups with whom we have met. At every turn, we've shared renderings and drafts, and have welcomed input and, in fact, made route changes based on input from the community and from city and state agencies.’’
Mayor Walsh’s press secretary, Bonnie McGilpin, said: “The mayor is reviewing the letter, and his office is happy to meet with community groups to discuss the Grand Prix coming to Boston. He remains confident that the event will be good for the City and bring visitors to Boston. He has made it clear to IndyCar that community engagement is key to this process as it moves forward."
While many people who live and work in the area have expressed concerns about disruption and noise related to Grand Prix, many also are excited about it and agree it could be a fun event that brings lots of tourism and positive attention for the city. “I think Grand Prix in Boston would be something spectacular,’’ said Brandon Carpenter of Gardner, Mass., who works in the district. He acknowledged that “they're going to have to block off a lot of roads. It's going to be hard on traffic.’’
But Michelle Cordo of Boston’s Back Bay, who works in an office on Seaport Boulevard, said: “We’re in a construction zone as it is, so how much more disruptive can it really be.’’ Brenden Agrela, who commutes daily from Smithfield, R.I., agreed: “We have a lot going up and around to begin with, so it kind of adds to the noise.’’