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Like the Olympics all over again: Seaport condo association says planned Grand Prix should be stopped

Politico reports the Seaport Lofts Condominium Association, which represents residents at 437 D St., has hired a lawyer in an effort to stop the Grand Prix of Boston race next fall.

The race, which would involve shutting down Seaport streets to let drivers of exotic sports cars pretend they're in Monaco, was never subjected to the sort of resident vetting such a major event would normally get - and committed the city to cover any overruns - the group says.

Mayor Walsh's office replies:

We will review the letter when it is received by the Mayor's office. We continue to be confident that this will be a great event for the city of Boston, bringing fans and visitors to our hotels, restaurants and shops on what is typically a quiet weekend.

Boston IndyCar agreement (4M PDF).

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Comments

I'd care more if there were an actual neighborhood involved (such as on A Street).

That said, I'm still against the event if it would interrupt Silver Line service to the airport.

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A St. more of a neighborhood than D St.?

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We're paying for security, road closures, cost overruns, etc... so a private organization can make some money. Now granted, we do (and should) pay for these things during other events (4th of July, Marathon, etc...) but that doesn't mean Marty should just be signing on the dotted line every time someone asks. Do we really need to draw people to the city on the same weekend when 11 billion college kids are also returning to the city?

Here's David Bernstein's take down from earlier this year.

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2015/06/05/grand-prix-boston/

Here's an illuminating excerpt from that article:

"From what I can tell, that statement appears to be an unadulterated lie: The only IndyCar event that purports to draw 250,000-plus spectators is the iconic Indianapolis 500, which is not at all similar to anything like the event being planned in Boston. Kate Norton, a spokesperson for the Grand Prix, could not provide another example of an IndyCar race that draws those numbers.

Before Norton was spokesperson for the Grand Prix, of course, she was Walsh’s press secretary. And the connections between Walsh and the Grand Prix don’t end there. Consulting work for Grand Prix Boston is being done by CK Strategies, which is also consulting for Boston 2024; Chris Keohan of CK Strategies was Walsh’s 2013 campaign strategist. Also consulting for the Grand Prix are Dino Difonzio, Dan Passacantilli, and Kenny Ryan – all with close connections to Walsh, mostly through his 2013 campaign."

Notice the common theme - Marty's buddies and cronies think this is a good idea as they are being paid by the Grand Prix folks so he went along with it.

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I had not seen that article.

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I've read about lots of people excited for this event. Myself included. And my wife. One of the reasons I like living in the city is I don't even have to drive or train over to see it. I can just walk so low hassle.

I get there's probably some politics - and if I lived near there I might be upset about it too - this just sounds like something fun and different to do for an afternoon. There may be close and even financial ties involved - but it doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing for the city (except for those who live there) - although generally I think I wouldn't mind having this run right in front of my house. I can figure out the logistics of parking/transit etc. for a week. And my guess is that except for the day of - the hassles would be fairly minimal.

This is a large event - and will cost the city some dough - but we do events like this all the time - marathon, duck boat parades, gay pride, 4th of July. I vote yay!

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You are usually Mr Budget Hawk, but signing the city up to lose money for 5 years while inconveniencing residents and business is cool with you because it's something fun to do for an afternoon?

There are plenty of cool events in the city which don't require this kind of impact - specifically everything you just mentioned will actually impact the city for less time. Tall Ships for example is an event which generates a lot of discussion about cost/benefit, but even there the impact is that various wharfs and piers are being used -not major public roads.

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I don't see this event costing any kind of huge money. The city runs (and polices and cleans up) events all the time. The city probably gets paid for the details by the event (the city makes money off of details).

After that there is probably some clean up - but that's small potatoes and the event will do the heavy lifting like jersey barriers etc.

I get that people are going to be SIGNIFICANTLY inconvenienced - that's a legit complaint. Looks like these roads will be closed for days for several blocks. But that's part of living in the city - and not every event in the city should be in the Back Bay/Esplanade.

As for cost - again - probably mostly a wash or even a positive for the city. I am a budget hawk - but it's waste fraud and abuse I don't like. This doesn't seem to fall into that category and if it does - it's very small potatoes in the scheme of a $2.8 billion budget (and it actually needs to be budgeted for AND we have a legal obligation to sign off on a balanced budget).

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to re-pave all the streets prior to the race? Indy cars can't run on bumpy pavement.

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But that's something they have to do anyway - and probably frequently in that area with all the construction between trucks and tearing up the roads. They may be able to foist some of that off on the contractors doing all the work. Again - probably not a big ticket item in the scheme of things - AND it has to be budgeted for. It probably just means some other streets in the city don't get paved and these do. There is always plenty of road to pave in the city.

One of the reasons I live in the city is convenience and vitality. This is part of that.

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...so that only accelerates needed repairs. Honestly, if the roads are too bumpy for racing, then it's time for a repave anyways. The City still gets the long term benefit of the investment. It's not like they're paying to repave an actual race track.

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Have you seen an Indy car? Every street in the City of Boston right now is too bumpy for an indy car to race on.

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http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2011/12/30/city-of-baltimore-terminates-ag...

"BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It may be the finish line for the Baltimore Grand Prix. The city has terminated its contract with the Baltimore Racing Development (BRD).

BRD is reportedly $12 million in debt. Nearly $2 million owed to the city. Now, city officials say their patience has run out."

$2m in public money isn't nothing. Not to say it would happen here, but again why are we assuming the risk?

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Though in my experience of small events - the city is usually pretty good about covering their @$$ - stress on the $$. I'm guessing on bigger events they are even tougher. 1010 Mass Ave requires bonds against damage. They are pretty good about collecting bills too - they get stiffed on occasion.

I think the money issues can be managed. What does bother me is that the city seems to be giving the cold shoulder to the neighbors. Been on the receiving end of that cold shoulder. Sounds like the city should be a lot more sympathetic to working with and accommodating the neighbors - and I'm guessing there are ways they can do that (for example - finding free off street parking for those locked out of their garage). Marty has vowed to be more responsive than Tommy was. I've seen snippets of that - but as this shows - still too inconsistent.

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They're selling this as something that will draw 250,000 people to the city. I wouldn't call that a small event.

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That number has been debunked. Baltimore drew an average of 147000, I don't see why Boston is going to pull 75% more traffic because Marty's buddy says so.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-09-13/news/bs-md-no-grand-prix-201...

More comments from people in Baltimore-

"Baltimore sank at least $7 million into the event — the cost for the road improvements needed for the first race in 2011 — and that doesn't count the cost of city services used to support the race. City officials estimate that the Grand Prix generated $130 million in economic impact over three years, bringing in thousands of out-of-town visitors.

Meanwhile, many city residents and businesspeople who have had to live and work around the race, including days of road closures and weeks of hulking concrete and metal barriers around downtown streets, said they were happy to see it go.

"It really destroys the core of the city for everybody for a month," said Fred Scharmen, an architecture instructor at Morgan State University.

Scharmen said he attended the event in its first year and enjoyed it, but would rather see a more family-oriented event that imposes less on city life replace of the Grand Prix.

"Most of the people I know just write off that entire chunk of the city for the weekend," he said.

That was evident in the reactions of some Inner Harbor business owners, who showed little disappointment over the event's likely end.

"Overall, it was probably a good thing for the city, but for us specifically on Labor Day weekend, it has hurt us," said Sarah Conlin, area director for J. Paul's, a restaurant in the Inner Harbor's Light Street Pavilion. "The numbers don't lie, and it keeps the locals away from the harbor on what used to be our second-busiest weekend of the year."

I trust those economic impact numbers about as much as Jim Rooney.

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Say what? No way. False. Hardly.

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All my friends and their families are looking forward for this event. Kids and adults will both be attending. What little kid doesn't want to see race cars speeding by, up close?

Boston has parades, street fares, concerts, conventions and other events that shut down/inconvenience big pieces of the city. Try going out to eat anywhere during the times when AnimeBoston or PaxEAST are in in town. Boston has more draw than Baltimore, so I'd like to believe we will pull in more folks than Baltimore. Every one of those out-of-town visitors has to pay to stay somewhere, and in my checking even this early, many of the hotels for that weekend are already booked. An IndyCar street circuit is a lot less permanent than the olympics, and will result in some roads in South Boston being made worth it to drive on. Let's give it a shot before we let someone crap all over another event because of NIMBY.

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Race cars are exciting, but very loud. Can be very rough on little ears!

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Maybe not clear - point was they dot i's and cross t's with the small events I've had to pull permits for. For an event that large they are going to cross t's, dot i's and pull teeth!

City can always get stiffed - but one thing Boston is really good at is getting paid. They have a pretty amazing collection record - not perfect - but very rare when someone stiffs Boston and gets away with it.

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Instead record shows poor bookkeeping, lots of delinquent payments that just get written off after the fact as claimed development expenses needed in different climate.

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does the BRA have to do with this issue?

I'm no BRA fan - but they have no connection to this whatsoever. Please troll elsewhere.

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You really need to read the MOU the Mayor signed, and while you are at it look for the exhibits that aren't attached and can't be found anywhere even through a FOIR!! The City is on the hook for cost overruns and basically cedes a chunk of the city to the Indy car folks who have a whopping $150K in assets - that's it. Look at the long list of defunct Indy street car courses....

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Indy 500 car racing should actually start at the entrance of storrow drive going west then continue on to soldiers field road then on to arsenal area in Watertown turn to memorial drive in Cambridge straight through memorial drive then whisk pass by cambridge side galleria turn right at leachmere station then pass by museum of science and back on to storrow drive.

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Special event - pull your permits. As long as there is no technical graft - don't we elect city officials who hire key personnel to make those decisions? I get the inconvenience factor - but in my opinion it's part of living in the city. I don't understand why certain parades need to be on Boylston - and it massively screws up traffic - but it's the price I pay to live near there the other 355 or so days a year.

At least you have well publicized notice. Can't tell you how frustrating it is to be heading home and realize there was some Martian day parade or some sort that was never advertised (with 3x more people in the parade than on the sidewalk) and it takes literally 90 minutes to go 3 blocks.

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Think you don't have to face weekday traffic on a weekend? Forget it in the summer. Don't plan on going anywhere in this city mid-morning on a Saturday, because the Walk For SomethingOrOther will be taking place.

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Agreed. The esplanade basically gets shut down every weekend in the fall because there's some sort of charity walk going on. Yeah yeah people can still walk on the main paths but good luck trying to run, ride a bike or doing anything besides slowly walk in the same direction as the "walkers." There needs to be more oversight over the number of walk for somethings that use the esplanade and basically make it impossible for anybody else to use the paths at the same time.

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I wish they would shut down the outbound side of Storrow on weekends, at least in the warmer months. Lots of other cities do things like that with parkways and it is a huge relief as it creates plenty of room for walkers, joggers, side-by-side stroller pushers, cyclists, roller bladers, etc. There are only a few access points for Storrow so it would not be too hard to do either.

I read something a while ago that the city was trying to have more of the walks finish elsewhere. I think the Avon breast cancer walk ends at UMass and I think there's a few others that go there now.

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I didn't look to hard to find this blog post. Not popular then. Can't imagine it would be any more popular now.

http://allston02134.blogspot.com/2008/01/car-free-sunday-mornings-on-sto...

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Can't Boston just host something that is fun for once? I don't particularly care for the Grand Prix nor do I live in that area but this is a major city and sometimes major things will happen.

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Marathon, championship parades, St Patricks parade, Head of Charles (if you like that), Tall Ships sometimes, First Night (until recently), gay pride parade, concerts at TD Garden + Gov't Center, etc... seems like there are plenty of large fun events here?

Why do we have to rubber stamp everything so Marty's flack buddies can make fat cash on our dime?

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We also don't need a big and very expensive and excessively loud event to draw people to the Seaport on a summer weekend. Every restaurant and hotel will be packed with regular customers already. There is no extra money to be made. If anything it will keep people away during the set up and tear down periods, therefore costing businesses money overall(this is what happened with London summer olympics on a much bigger scale).

This event is a dumb idea. You can already see cars drive too fast on Boston streets 365 days a year.

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I swear these types would cancel Christmas, the marathon, and New Year's Eve if they had a chance. I hope they enjoy the other 51 weekend next year enjoying the peace and quiet of the Seaport.

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Probably the real reason from John Keith last week: http://www.archboston.org/community/showpost.php?p=243756&postcount=46

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As I understand it, the course will run counter-clockwise. Thus, the course would take cars past 437 D, but then turn directly *away* from 437 D into the tunnel under the Westin. Directly counter (no pun intended) to the statement in the link you posted to.

Had the course been running clockwise, then yes, cars would be coming out of the tunnel and trying to round a corner in a way that would put 437 D directly into the path a car would take if it left the course.

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Thank you for this information. I'll check with my usual sources.

The route as drawn, though, has "Turn 1", "Turn 2", etc. going clockwise which seems to back up my original idea that it goes clockwise.

Move the D Street section to E Street and problem is solved, regardless...

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Briefly:

I live at 407 D Street, next to 437 D and across from the Lawn on D. The start / finish line is approximately right in front of my building and our apartment faces D Street.

It's a fun idea and I'm on board with it.

There are a lot of problems with it.

First, the people at 437 D Street aren't "1 percenters" they are long-time Boston residents, many of whom have lived there since before the BCEC was built. They're invested, personally and financially, in the neighborhood.

Bottom line is, I believe for many of them, they are mostly concerned about the route of the IndyCar race, not the actual event. They have only involved an attorney because the owners believe their concerns have not been addressed. (I can't speak for them since I've only had limited interactions with several of the owners.) Some, of course, don't want it at all. I can respect their opinion even though mine is different.

The route, as proposed, goes through the South Boston Waterfront on roads that don't face housing, apartments or condos. That's fine. That's cool. Great neighborhood for this sort of thing.

A smidgen of the route goes directly in front of residential housing; namely, 437 D Street and my building, the Flats on D, at 407-411 D Street. That smidgen, unfortunately, is the start and finish lines, where there is going to be the most activity.

437 D Street is a condo building - the people living there own their homes. They have concerns much like you or I would have; namely, safety, noise, inconveniences.

Please take a look at the route. Near the finish line, it goes directly under the BCEC - under it - and then comes out the other side. Where it comes out, the cars (not at 180-mph, most-likely, but 100 mph maybe?) will be going directly toward the condos at 437 D Street. Like, head-on. The cars will pull a sharp right, go down D Street, and finish ~500 feet away.

Images of route at 437 D Street

http://imgur.com/5KOcdD4
http://imgur.com/qy1pX8N
http://imgur.com/DP2YwMX

The organizers of the race have said they will construct 16-foot barriers along the street to protect the building (and, people?) from any harm. I don't know if I was an owner if I'd feel you could build barriers of any height and guarantee protection.

The race takes two weeks to build and another week to tear down; this isn't a "one-day" or "three-day" event; it's a month-long event for those who live in the neighborhood.

And, it is a neighborhood. It was always designed to be a mix of residential, commercial, and industrial.

The noise issue is a temporary one - I guess just three days although I assume the drivers drive the course during the week before to check out the route?

The street will be blocked off - for how long, undetermined. Perhaps a "minor" inconvenience in the minds of some, but not being able to access your residential parking garages for a week is a problem - and something that apparently isn't being addressed by the event's organizers. Both garages empty onto D Street. That's not going to be possible during the event.

From what I understand, the race organizers and city hall / state officials from the neighborhood haven't been very responsive to concerns raised by area residents. That's what's driving (lol) the opposition. The organizers either don't have the answers to the questions or don't want to admit them. Either is not good.

This is the first time Boston is doing this. Baltimore did it for three years and apparently the city - not the organizers - lost money every year. (The reason Boston signed up for five years is 1) because it was required; and, 2) because due to sunk costs you have to go that long to break even.) (And, the economic benefits are questionable, based on what I've read.)

As we all know, there are people pro and con about any issue, any event, and this will be no different. For a list of the cons, check out this Baltimore Sun article / column. If you're looking for reasons to oppose an IndyCar race in Boston, this has all of them. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-01-03/news/bs-ed-grand-prix-201201...

For some, this event is eerily familiar to the Olympics where promises where made and agreements forged prior to anyone who lives here actually being involved / asked for an opinion. That alone makes some people angry.

The race organizers are apparently unprepared to deal with residents; at meetings, they have apparently been saying, "I dunno," and, "Let me get back to you," when asked elementary questions. Local officials have seemingly been passing the buck.

From a practical point of view, I can't believe that noise of 140-decibels, the typical level at its highest for IndyCars, won't blow out all our windows. That level is apparently what you hear on the deck of an aircraft carrier. (Again, we can all find pros and cons to argue our points.)

Those who oppose the route of the race have proposed other routes - three, is what I've heard - but have been shot down by the organizers. Is there a fourth option?

The route down D Street was chosen (most-likely) for two reasons: 1) it's a straightaway and has room for viewing stands at the Lawn on D; and, 2) organizers of races such as these like to have cars running under buildings and having the route go under the Convention Center allows them to do this.

Thoughts?

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IMAGE(http://apps.startribune.com/blogs/user_images/wally_1.jpg)

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I have one small comment. The race would be run counterclockwise, so the cars would not be coming from the BCC onto D street.

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wut?

lol. I'll go back to check. That would make me a little happier.

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1) Nicely done. Good explanations for those of us not too familiar with the situation.

2) However, if it truly is going to be 140 decibels, I'd invest in some heavy-duty ear protection. The threshold of human pain is usually given as 120dB to 130dB. ANYTHING beyond 85dB has the capability of hearing loss or damage (such as that ringing in your ears you might have for a couple of days after an AC/DC concert - speaking of whom 130 dB has been clocked at their concerts and that puts them on this list...

Loudest Bands of All-Time

... NONE of which are listed as high as 140 dB.)

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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is (for example), 140 dB *at what distance?* Something that is 140 dB 10 feet from the source will not be that loud 50 feet from the source.

It is going to unquestionably be loud, but I think the windows will be safe.

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The sound level of 140dB is for an entire 33 car pack of IndyCars, at a banked track like Indianapolis Speedway. There isn't really anywhere on a street circuit where you're going to manage to have all the cars at one place at full throttle at the same time.

Also note that what another reply said is true: Sound drops relatively quickly with distance. That includes height. At the distance people will be standing/living from the track, the worst it'll be is "rock concert" loud, and that's really only if you're standing as close to the barriers as you can get, and only if you are at a place where the cars are at full-throttle, and only if the rear-end of the car is pointing directly AT you. Sound attenuates in some pretty tricky ways, especially in places with lots of edges and flat surfaces with angles.

Here's a pretty good article about noise at IndyCar. It explains that the cheap foam earplugs will work just fine if used properly. Buy them now before CVS starts selling them for $5.99 a pair. :)

Yes, it's loud, but if it was "break the glass" loud, speedways couldn't install windows at their facilities, and they all have plenty of windows on buildings.

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