New Grassroots Group Aims to Keep Franklin Park Out of the Olympics

Chalk slogan IOC PROPERTY on White Stadium.

From the Facebook page of Franklin Park Area stop the Olympics.

Chalk slogan IOC PROPERTY on White Stadium. Credit: Courtesy of Franklin Park Area Stop the Olympics.

On Tuesday, resident Chris Hoeh took the podium at First Church to announce that Franklin Park Area Stop the Olympics was in place  and in your face.

Saying that “Jamaica Plain stopped I-95 and we can stop the Olympics,” he urged everyone in the sanctuary to come out to the Mayors Boston Olympic Community meeting on June 30  to say Franklin Park and Harambee Park ( Franklin Field ) are not for the Olympics. “The meeting is a great opportunity!”

In a hand-out, the group stated that Franklin Park Area Stop the Olympics was formed “in response to calls for locally organized resistance….We will help stop the Olympics and build the city we need.”

Hoeh – who lives on Adelaide street and is grade school teacher – spoke at the conclusion of a lecture by Smith College Professor Andrew Zimabalist on the “Economic Gamble of Boston 2024.” The talk was sponsored by Jamaica Plain Forum and Papercuts JP.

Zimbalist said that the Olympics bid by Boston was an “illegitimate public process” because “no political body” submitted the bid.  It was submitted, he maintained “by the construction and hospitality industries.”

Hoeh’s group intends to change that political dynamic. Formed last Thursday, the group of five announced not only its presence but its methods by holding its first protest at White Stadium  dressed as oligarchs “surveying our new playground,” in the words of their website.

The five came in on childrens’ hobby horses emphasizing the Boston 2024 plan to use Franklin Park for horse trials. They chalked in blue and red the words  “IOC Property” on the walls of the Stadium. By Tuesday morning, a Boston Public Schools crew had removed the writing, according to an email received by Christine Poff, executive director of the Franklin Park Coalition.

The new protest group published photographs of the action their website.

Their website states that Franklin Park Stop the Olympics is “fighting for our community and against the Boston Olympics.”

Differences of Opinion

Hoeh admits he has not been involved with or talked to the Franklin Park Coalition or the Sportsman Tennis Club or Franklin Field Tenants Task force at Harambee Park.

That a group barely a week old did not talk with the Franklin Park Coalition, widely recognized as the major advocate of Franklin Park for forty years; that has also been closely involved with the Olympics process for months, speaks loudly about the level of polarization seeping into the Boston Olympics debate.

Cole Rainey-Slavick told Jamaica Plain News that the Coalition “has been bought off” by Boston 2024.” Echoing the words from those involved in stopping I-95, Slavick said “This is my community; I don’t want it ruined.”

Poff, of the Franklin Park Coalition told Jamaica Plain News  that Hoeh has not been involved with the Coalition but came to its May 9 annual meeting and asked direct questions about the Coalition’s position on the Olympics.

“We’re been frustrated” Poff said.”We don’t want to risk losing badly-need investment in the park – that Boston 2024 might bring – but we realize the park is fragile and very historic so we’re afraid for the consequences.”

The Coalition has not taken a formal position for or against the Olympics.

“We are concerned first and foremost and only for Franklin Park” said Poff, who is the sole full time staff person of the Coalition. “That’s what the board and volunteers and I do. But we need more information about the impact of he Olympics on Franklin Park.”

Mayoral Olympic Meeting Coming to JP

More information may come out of Mayor Marty Walsh’s Tuesday, June 30 Olympics meeting at English High School. The session starts at 6:30 p.m.

More action appears on the table, too. Hoeh said that a planning meeting to chart responses to the hearing by Franklin Park Stop the Olympics will be held on Tuesday, June 23 at Spontaneous Celebrations.

Strong doubts are in place already. As resident Laura Foner pointed out, June 30 is also the deadline for a preliminary submission by Boston 2014.

“Are they just going to roll out a plan and have us approve it? What kinds of deals are being made? These people aren’t stupid,” Foner said.

Poff, of the Franklin Park Coalition, cautiously sees the debate about Boston Olympics as potential to get badly-needed investment into the historic landscape of Franklin Park.

Hoeh, of Franklin Park Area Stop the Olympics, steadfastly sees the debate in apocalyptic terms.

“If you saw a hurricane coming,” Hoeh said, “wouldn’t you want to stop it?”

"The Oligarchs " The Franklin Park Area Stop the Olympics, June 13, 2015, at White Stadium. Credit: Courtesy of Franklin Park Area Stop the Olympics.

Fcaebook page Franklin Park Area Stop the Olympics.

“The Oligarchs” The Franklin Park Area Stop the Olympics on June 13, 2015 at White Stadium. Credit: Courtesy of Franklin Park Area Stop the Olympics.

  • Cole Rainey-Slavick

    I am writing this to say that there has been a misquotation from the conversation I had with the writer of this article, Mr. Heath. I was unaware at the time that he wrote for JPNews and believed he was just an interested attendee at the JP Forum’s lecture by Andrew Zimbalist on the economic and political problems with hosting the Olympics in Boston. I did not say that the Franklin Park Coalition was bought off nor do I think that. What I did say is that the Olympics have a history of buying people and groups off (examples include civil rights leaders in Atlanta, Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center in Harambee Park, and their attempt to do so with Andrew Zimbalist) and that based on the position taken by FPC, “in my understanding it seems that they might have been bought off but I am not sure.” All of the context and qualifying statements illustrating that it was clearly conjecture have been removed. The writer and I have different ideas of what was said and I asked them to take it out or to reflect my actual statement and they refused.

    What I am sure of is that hosting the Olympics in Boston is a terrible idea for our city. As a regular user of Franklin Park, it’s particularly worrisome that the park would be off limits for neighborhood use for at least a year before the Olympics and would remain a changed park after them. Our parks are for public use. Restricting them for private use goes against the very principle of their function. The people of Boston have had no political voice in the bid for the Olympics. Plans are made behind closed doors. It is not the people who are bidding for the Olympics but corporate lobbyists and CEOs of Boston 2024 who are doing so and who will ultimately gain. The economic history of the Olympics is that there are always cost overruns that are a burden on us-the taxpayers. There is also a myth that tourism will flourish but studies indicate that many “regular” tourists stay away and that there is no gain in that area either. Along with these problems, many Olympics have displaced large groups of people for construction of Olympic facilities. Rents go up and gentrification increases as low-income residents are forced out and communities are forever destroyed. And if this is not enough, surveillance and security will be heightened. Much of what will go in for the Olympics will stay and will forever change our city. In London anti-aircraft artillery was put on the roofs of civilian homes. Just as during the 2004 Democratic Convention, there will be large areas of the city where freedom of speech will be off-limits. I know I don’t want this for my city; I don’t know how anyone who has the interests of the community or the park at heart can.

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Thanks for taking us up on the offer of adding a comment, Cole.

  • jenuphoto

    The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association conducted a survey in May regarding the proposed use of Franklin Park as an Olympic venue in 2024. The neighborhood abuts the Western edge of Franklin Park. Full survey results here:

  • I was curious to see what the group did in terms of addressing the very real possibilities of damage to Franklin Park but they lost me when they compared the Olympics to a hurricane. As someone who grew up in new Orleans and have strong memories of Hurricanes Betsy and Camille (I was in Boston for Katrina but still care very much about what happened) I have to ask two very simple questions: How do you stop a hurricane? Can you stop one?

    It may be a poor choice of words but the fact that it’s how you want to describe your efforts to keep the Olympics from our beloved urban park make it very difficult to take any of your efforts seriously.

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