By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer
Just a week after signing a number of license agreements and a memorandum of understanding with several agencies within the political machine that is the City of Boston, the organizers of the Grand Prix of Boston had yet another stumbling block thrown in front of them.
This time, it is the five-person Conservation Commission that has come out of the woodwork to require an additional permit for the Grand Prix to go forward. Recent maps from FEMA, that went into effect last month, have put a portion of the course in a flood-zone area.
This prompted Larry Bishoff, co-chairman of the Coalition Against IndyCar Boston, to petition the Conservation Commission to require a wetlands construction permit for the Grand Prix organizers.
“It was heartening to see that an independent commission stood up for an open lawful process and took seriously our concerns about threats to the environment presented by this event.” said Bishoff.
The promoters plan to appeal the ruling through the Department of Environmental Protection, but the process may take as long as 35 days, putting construction behind.
Even if the Grand Prix is granted the permit, there is no guarantee that opposition will not appeal the granting of the permit, starting another cycle of inactivity while that is resolved.
“Preparation for GPB requires minimal work in the new flood zone, and therefore the team is going through the Wetlands Protection Act process with the Boston Conservation Commission and DEP,” said Grand Prix spokesman Harry-Jacques Pierre. “We expect to appeal their most recent decision to the DEP.”
The Grand Prix has been met with criticism, local opposition and political red-tape since its inception. Boston Mayor, Martin Walsh, has been a supporter of the event, but he chose to side with the committee on this one.
“The rules are there for a reason. They’re the rules and you have to live by the rules and work by the rules,” said Walsh. “Unfortunately for IndyCar they have to come up with how they move forward.”
Boston is a city long mired in politics, and it is this same type of political posturing, opposition, and red-tape that caused the city to pull its bid to host the 2024 Olympics.
It remains to be seen how this latest kink in the process will affect the progress of the Grand Prix, or what the opposition will throw at IndyCar next.
Image: Grand Prix of Boston