IndyCar’s Seaport neighbors in battle for public opinion - Metro US

IndyCar’s Seaport neighbors in battle for public opinion

Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Opponents of the IndyCar race slated to hit Boston’s Seaport District this year are hoping they can rally Bostonians and commuters behind their cause, aiming to stop the event they say would be noisy and disruptive.

An advocacy group called the Coalition Against IndyCar Boston plan to make their case at a public hearing Tuesday night at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

So far, though, the campaign has struggled. Although it has adopted the language of the anti-Olympics movement – its website and slogan, No IndyCar Boston, mirrors that of No Boston Olympics and No Boston 2024 – it hasn’t brought the same fervor anti-Games activists inspired.

David Lurie, the lawyer representing the group, said around 100 recently signed a letter sent to government officials. The group’s Twitter account has 81 followers.

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But Lurie said he and other members of the coalition believe they can get more Bostonians to join in the opposition.

“The more people learn about the race, the more they are upset about it,” he said.

The coalition of neighbors and employees say the IndyCar race was poorly conceived, that it would have negative impacts on a neighborhood which already has traffic issues, and that the required annual construction work would put too much of the burden for the race on those who live and work along the proposed race route, which snakes around the convention center and streets in the South Boston neighborhood.

“We think this race is a travesty, frankly. It’s the wrong place and the wrong time to foist this on the fastest growing area in the city,” said Larry Bishoff, a co-chair of the coalition.

Members also cite concerns about the environmental impact, including worries about decibel levels during the race and what they described as the threat of releasing toxic chemicals during construction on Cypher Street.

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Lurie said about 120 showed up for a similar neighborhood meeting in Fort Point earlier this year.

He said the coalition may decide to host its own meetings “if the momentum continues to grow,” he said. “Right now we’re just trying to get the word out.”

Speaking to MotorSport.com last month, the CEO of IndyCar parent company downplayed neighbors’ concerns.

“I have to hope that either this letter has come from a very small group of people who have their objections, or that once the event happens, they will understand how terrific it is and they will give it the support it deserves,” Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles told the site, referencing a letter the group sent to government officials and race organizers this year.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said the race would not require taxpayer money. He has also touted its economic benefits for the city.

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But many aren’t convinced the race is in the city’s best interest. Seaport resident Drew Volpe is one of them.

Volpe, a 38-year-old who has lived in his Seaport apartment for 12 years, said he believes many who live in other Boston neighborhoods forget how many people have homes in the booming district better known for its office towers and restaurants.

He said demonstrators are on a “time crunch” to change public opinion ahead of a race that is now just a few months away. The Grand Prix of Boston is scheduled to take place Sept. 2-4.

Coalition members said race organizers have already started bringing some of the barriers needed to construct the course into the city.

“There isn’t a lot of time to get the word out,” Volpe said. “I’m confident we can do that and as more and more people find out about it they’ll object to it and kind of join the cause against it.”

The public hearing at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in room 156 is scheduled for 6-8 p.m.

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