Boston made history in establishing a new model of fighting off the crony-capitalist scam that is the Olympics.
Next, Boston can make another kind of history by establishing a new model of true urban planning: Mayor Walsh’s Imagine Boston 2030 effort.
We specifically expect that planning to address sensible assistance for Franklin Park, a gem of one of the world’s greatest park systems, whose advocates have been disgracefully jerked around by the Olympic scheme.
The U.S. and International Olympic Committees were rapacious enemies of Boston, and we thank the heroic protesters who fended them off.
The regular folks who supported Boston 2024 are, of course, no one’s enemies and never were. Nor were they mindless gulls, just as opponents were not mindless NIMBYs. They just had a different view on how to achieve the goal that always had majority support: Greater Boston’s crying need for comprehensive planning and infrastructure fixes.
After the Olympics debacle, the city owes its citizens such an authentic plan. And the people owe it to each other to join in this inclusive, collaborative, ground-up community planning that will soon begin. (And fight to make sure all of those adjectives continue to apply, of course.)
Mayor Walsh has a true concern for Boston’s neglected populations and neighborhoods, and he proposes just such a plan. His 2030 planning is breathtaking in scope, involving virtually every city department. The Imagine Boston segment particularly addresses fundamental land use and zoning—something the city has not planned comprehensively for decades.
The intent to do this plan was always the most head-scratching element of the mayor’s inexplicably uncritical and rapid embrace of the Boston 2024 boondoggle, which, like all Olympics bids, sought to hijack local government, public land and planning resources. The opponents who killed the Boston 2024 bid cleared the way for this true planning process to happen untainted.
Thank you to those protesters. Their unusual combo of politically centrist economic critique, citizen journalism, social-media debunking, old-school organizing and new-school Black Lives Matter and feminist protesting set a template for other cities to drive a stake through the heart of the Olympic vampire wherever it next lurks. Boston 2024 was not an urban plan that got screwed up; it was a scam that got exposed.
Informed partly by the pioneering group No Boston Olympics, we warned back in November that Boston 2024 would be a deceitful, secretive land-grab, and it was. We urged opposition as the only way to preserve Franklin Park, and protesters responded. The NoBoston2024 movement immediately formed and staged the first—and only pre-bid-submission—community meeting about the Games. We are proud of those protesters.
Bostonians should not forget how close Boston 2024 came to corrupting city government. Or how quickly the city embraced secrecy at the behest of a weird Swiss cabal and a gang of Colorado bros over the input of its own people. Or how the Olympic specter could loom again in 2028 or beyond. Hold onto that wisdom.
But Boston’s real win over the Olympics scheme lies in showing how real planning is done, and engaging in it openly and enthusiastically. It’s time for the city’s actual planning experts to do their work. It’s time for residents of every neighborhood to sit side by side and have a hand in crafting their own future.
And it’s definitely time for leaders to meet with Franklin Park advocates and, rather than dictate what they’ll get, ask what they need.
Good riddance, Boston 2024. Welcome, Boston 2030.