The day after Boston 2024 announced their revised plans, organizers of a city forum on the games tried a new approach in Jamaica Plain: Splitting the meeting into three parts, to discuss different ramifications of the would-be games.
"They're separating us to take away our voice!" some protesters yelled at the English High School session, not far from Franklin Park, which remains the proposed venue for equestrian events and the pentathlon.
Representatives of Boston 2024 told the crowd that the breakout sessions were meant to facilitate dialogue, specifically on "Creating Open Space/Parks Legacy," "Envisioning New Neighborhoods" and "Planning our Transportation Future."
Director of Olympic Operations John Fitzgerald encouraged people to split among the breakout sessions but received shouts of "You lie!" and "When do we get to talk?" The largest opposition group remained in the auditorium to protest Boston 2024 representatives while the other two sessions were tense but quieter overall.
Mayor Walsh's 15-yearplan to add 53,000 units by 2030 was the major talking point of the Neighborhood/Housing session, presented by Devin Quirk, director of operations at the Department of Neighborhood Development. "We need to do more to ensure that Boston remains an affordable city for everyone of all backgrounds," said Quirk.
Meeting attendees were not satisfied that housing plans would only meet the minimum 15% affordable housing inclusionary development policy, while also giving tax breaks to developers. Boston 2024 representatives said that gentrification and displacement are problems everywhere, Olympics or not, and the opportunity of hosting the Games could be the perfect disruptive event to spark neighborhood development and renovation.
Many residents expressed frustration when told the Olympics could solve Boston's housing, transportation and infrastructure issues. "This Olympic thing is a total diversion," said Jamaica Plain resident Laura Foner. "It's really diverting us from how we want use our resources as a city and what kind of city we want to become."
Tonight's meeting was the sixth of nine community meetings; the next public meeting will take place on July 28 at the Mildred Ave Middle School.
The meeting also came following the USOC's meeting with Boston 2024 organizers in California. The USOC stuck with Boston, but said it wants to see better polling numbers for the games here.