Metro

End of Olympic effort gets mixed reaction from residents

Residents in Boston’s neighborhoods on Monday largely welcomed the news that the city’s bid to host the Olympics in 2024 had collapsed, though some people lamented a lost opportunity to change the face of the Hub for generations.

In South Boston, several residents bid good riddance to a plan that failed to attract broad public support, owing in part to budgetary fears and traffic concerns in a city already notorious for gridlock and an aging public transit system.

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“Cool,” said Jessica St. Ours, 28, when informed that the bid had been withdrawn. “I think [I opposed it] for a few different reasons. I think the biggest thing was traffic.”

Another neighborhood resident, who would only give his first name, Paul, said during a brief interview at Medal of Honor Park off East Broadway that the city’s checkered history with major projects doomed the bid from the start.

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“I think people were probably a little gun-shy after the experience of the Big Dig,” he said. “[People asked], ‘Do we really want to do this?’ There’s a price tag, and there’s going to be overruns. We knew it, and we were going to avoid it.”

But Allyson McDonald, 42, who was jogging in the park with her husband, was flabbergasted to learn the bid had failed.

“It stinks,” said McDonald, of South Boston. “Who wouldn’t want the Olympics to come?”

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McDonald noted that Los Angeles and Atlanta reported cash surpluses when they hosted the Games. She said that unlike more remote host cities in other nations, such as Sochi, Russia, Boston has a thriving economy that could make use of Olympic-inspired building upgrades after the event.

“Boston has a bunch of smart people [who were prepared to] build all these great things for the city,” she said.

Some Dorchester residents were also stung by the news.

“That’s not right! We need more development,” said Giovanni Montague, 43. “To just stop pursuing it . . . why?”

At the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center in the neighborhood, reaction was mixed.

Thomas Gocking, 41, of Mattapan, whose daughter was participating in a program at the tennis club, cited financial concerns when asked about the failed bid.

“I don’t think we should be on the books for it,” he said, while lauding Mayor Martin J. Walsh for declining to commit city taxpayers to covering any overruns.

At the same time, Gocking said, “we don’t have a lot of venues that other big cities have. Boston is old-fashioned and boring,” and the Games may have “brought us up to speed with other cities.”

The tennis club had been designated as an Olympics practice facility, expected to bring much-needed upgrades including bleachers and lights.

“It’s a tough day for the city overall,” said Toni Wiley, executive director of the Sportsmen’s center, in a phone interview.

“When you look at recreational facilities in New England and Greater Boston, certainly there are fewer here, and it would have been a nice investment for this community to have,” Wiley said.

Marie Manda, 30, another Olympic supporter, said city youth currently have nowhere to play.

“There’s no entertainment for them,” she said. “They want to build a million-dollar casino but they should build something for the youth.”

Some at the tennis club voiced skepticism over claims that the Olympics would help the economy.

“I don’t think it would have helped the people in our neighborhood,” said Reginald Talbert, 49, whose grandchildren are enrolled in a club program. “I see a lot of people getting jobs but not us. ... We really don’t know how much it would have cost.”

Suzanne Tompkins, of Hyde Park, a former club board member, said a lack of transparency from bid organizers hurt their cause.

“Boston was not ready for this for a number of reasons,” Tompkins said. “It wasn’t clear who would pay and be financially responsible.”

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Keondre McClay

At City Hall Plaza, residents young and old cited concerns about the Games, even while conceding that the event would have been exciting.

“Who doesn’t want the Olympics where they live?” said Keondre McClay, 16, of Dorchester. “But when the Olympics end, we’ll have stadiums, villages, all this material sitting there. We could have used the money for improving school lunches and the city’s transportation system.”

Bob McLaughlin, 75, focused on the immediate impact of hosting the Games.

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Bob McLaughlin worried about Olympic traffic.

“As much as I like sports, [Boston] is packed with people as it is,” he said. “There would be too much traffic. I want to get across the street, I don’t want to get run over.”

Joe Piro, 19, a Boston University undergraduate, said the city’s public transit system is “not up to par to accommodate that many people. . . . The city would have to make major fixes that wouldn’t happen in time.”

Bryan McConnaughey, 46, of Hamilton, was walking his dog at the plaza and said Boston was unprepared to host such a massive event.

“Atlanta took cues from the [1984] Los Angeles Olympic Committee,” said McConnaughey, who lived in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Games. “Boston doesn’t have a superb infrastructure. In this day and age, large events need oversight.”

But at least one person on City Hall Plaza was saddened to learn that Boston’s Olympic dreams were shattered.

“I wish [the Olympics] were here. I don’t know why people don’t like it,” said Nariman Gharazeddine, 33, of Revere. “It’s good to share in athletic activities.”

Travis Anderson can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Jan Ransom can be reached at jan.ransom@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jan_Ransom.
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