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Brookline Town Meeting to vote on opposing Olympics bid

The Country Club in Brookline has been proposed as the site for golf competitions if Boston wins its bid to host the 2024 Olympics. Brookline Town Meeting will likely vote this week on a measure calling for its elected officials to oppose the Olympic bid.
The Country Club in Brookline has been proposed as the site for golf competitions if Boston wins its bid to host the 2024 Olympics. Brookline Town Meeting will likely vote this week on a measure calling for its elected officials to oppose the Olympic bid.Barry Chin/Globe Staff/File

BROOKLINE — With leaders of Boston's Olympic bid this week in Lausanne, Switzerland, for a consultation with the International Olympic Committee, residents much closer to home are set to debate a proposal to give thumbs down to the local bid for the 2024 Summer Games.

Brookline Town Meeting members are expected this week to take up a warrant article complaining that Brookline "was never consulted about hosting the 2024 Olympics" before the private nonprofit group, Boston 2024, last year submitted a bid to the United States Olympic Committee.

The article would put Town Meeting on record against the bid and urge Brookline's local and state representatives to actively oppose it.

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If the article passes, it may have little direct effect on Boston's pursuit of the Games, but could be a symbolic blow at a critical time for the local bid committee, which just completed a shake-up of its top leadership.

Boston 2024 is under pressure from Governor Charlie Baker and others to release an updated plan to build Olympic facilities with private financing and provide new cost and revenue projections for the Games. The bid committee, under new chairman Steve Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics, has promised to release its new plan by the end of June.

Boston 2024's early concept documents proposed Olympic golf at The Country Club, in Brookline, which has hosted major tournaments such as the 1999 Ryder Cup.

The proposed Olympic marathon course — which differs from the annual Boston Marathon course — appears to pass through Brookline, according to documents the bid committee released in January.

Town Meeting did not vote on the Olympics article on Tuesday night, and the session will continue Thursday night.

Brookline resident and Olympics opponent Lee Biernbaum submitted the article after months of following the debate over Boston's bid for the Games.

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He said he does not want planning for the Olympics to distract from more pressing public needs, and he worries about cost overruns possibly falling onto taxpayers. He also said he is uncomfortable with the level of security that may be needed to protect the Games.

The Town Meeting article can "get some symbolic recognition of these concerns," Biernbaum said.

He seems to have the support of Town Meeting member Susan P. Ellis, who still has fresh memories of waiting hours at the Brookline Hills station for MBTA trains that never came, or showed up hours late, this past winter.

A Boston Olympics would be "outrageous," she said, endorsing the anti-Olympics question.

"You can't ask people to come to Boston and depend on a transportation system that doesn't work," Ellis said.

Barbara Senecal, also a Town Meeting member, has a different point of view.

"I'd like to see what Boston wants before we start voting on this," she said. "I wouldn't want Boston City Council taking votes telling us what to do here in Brookline."

Former selectman and current Town Meeting member Robert Allen agreed that it is too early in the process to take such a vote, and that a lot of vetting, especially around transportation, should come first.

That said, "it would be kind of cool to have the Olympics here," Allen said. "It'd be a lot of fun."

Town Meeting member Alisa G. Jonas said she sees the potential benefits of hosting an Olympic Games in Boston, but she is troubled by what she says is a lack of communication from Boston 2024.

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During the past week she tried to reach someone at Boston 2024 to explain the Town Meeting vote, she said.

Even after she spoke with someone, the bid committee did not send anyone to argue the case for the Olympics.

Members of the Boston 2024 leadership team could not be reached Tuesday evening.


Mark Arsenault can be reached at marsenault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BostonGlobeMark.