Metro

City parks group sounds caution over proposed Common role in 2024 Games

A conceptual rendering of the temporary beach volleyball facility on Boston Common for the 2024 Olympics.
Boston 2024
A conceptual rendering of the temporary beach volleyball facility on Boston Common for the 2024 Olympics.

The organization that maintains Boston Common and the Public Garden has a message for those looking to bring the 2024 Olympics to the area: Stay off of our lawns.

“If we are a host of the Games, the parks should be premier places where people can come and visit. They should be open to the public, and not places that require ticketing,” said Elizabeth Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden.

Boston 2024, the private group behind the Olympics push, said although the Common and Public Garden have been eyed for events, including beach volleyball, none of the venue proposals are finalized.

Advertisement

“We are listening to communities about their thoughts and concerns relative to potential venues, and will incorporate that input as the bid is being crafted over the next year,” Boston 2024 chief executive Richard Davey said in a statement.

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

In a vote this month, members of the Friends of the Public Garden board requested that Olympic organizers relocate events and ancillary structures envisioned for the Common.

The board said Friday that Boston 2024’s conceptual plan calling for a temporary 16,000-seat beach volleyball stadium in the center of the Common “constitutes exclusive use,” and its members want to ensure the park stays public. They also said it would damage trees.

Boston 2024’s plans also include possibly using the adjacent Public Garden for road cycling events.

During recent public hearings with residents, Davey indicated that the organizers are open to alternative sites.

Advertisement

“To be clear, after this intensive public process if a majority of a particular community does not want a venue, we will find an alternative,” he said.

But Davey also pointed at the potential benefits that the Games could have for Boston’s green spaces.

“We believe the investment we could make in the Boston Common as a result of hosting the Olympic Games would be a tremendous legacy,” Davey said.

Boston 2024 is hosting 20 public meetings across the state, as well as nine local hearings, to get input on its proposals.

The International Olympic Committee will choose a host city for the 2024 Summer Games in 2017.

Advertisement

Vizza said the Friends of the Public Garden aren’t against bringing the Olympics to town, and they welcome an open dialogue about alternative ways to use the parks if the city is picked to host the games.

The board made Mayor Martin J. Walsh “aware of the vote, and reassured him it wasn’t about the Olympics as a whole — it’s just about our parks,” she said. “They are valuable, and they are vulnerable.”

The organization works with the city to maintain the Common and the Public Garden, as well as the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.