Grand Prix race draws ire of South Boston condo owners
Group’s letter cites safety, noise issues
Residents of a condo complex on the South Boston Waterfront are challenging efforts to turn their street into part of Boston’s first IndyCar race.
In a 14-page letter sent to Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Tuesday, a lawyer representing the Seaport Lofts Condominium Association raised a number of legal issues with the race.
Among them: the allegation that the city improperly negotiated a contract with event organizer Grand Prix of Boston without going through the proper public review.
The condo residents’ goals include blocking the race, scheduled to take place during Labor Day weekend next year, or forcing it to be moved.
They say they’re worried about access to their homes and parking as well as public safety and noise issues raised by race cars speeding through their neighborhood.
“We wrote this letter hesitantly in that we’ve never had to reach out as we’re doing here for help, but there was no process here,” said Gary Godinho, a member of the condo association’s board of trustees.
“We’ve got to do our own due diligence to protect our homes,” he added.
The Seaport Lofts condo owners would get a front-row seat on the action as cars zip by their windows at 437 D St.
The Grand Prix of Boston race is scheduled to be held Sept. 2-4 and is designed to travel over an 11-turn, 2.2-mile temporary street circuit that would encircle the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
The organizers and city officials signed a contract in May to hold the race for up to five consecutive years in the Seaport area.
That contract requires city officials to help land a title sponsor and to pay for street improvements needed for the event.
Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for Grand Prix of Boston and a former press secretary for Walsh, said it’s too early to calculate that price tag.
The construction of barriers for the race course could take up to three weeks, Norton said. The organizers would work with neighbors on the timing of how that fencing would be staged.
David Lurie, a lawyer representing the condo group, wrote that the city’s contract is illegal because the city didn’t seek competitive bids, in part because the contract allows Grand Prix of Boston to extensively use city streets without paying any charge.
Joseph Gwin, a biomedical engineer who lives in the 42-unit Seaport Lofts with his wife and infant son, said the residents of his building have been left out of the conversation during the design process for the course.
“I’m concerned, as I think many of the other residents in the building are, about how this race is going to impact our lives over those weekends for five years to come,” Gwin said.
But Norton said Grand Prix of Boston has engaged in numerous meetings with neighborhood groups and civic associations and met with residents of the Seaport Lofts on multiple occasions.
Race organizers, she said, have begun discussing mitigation measures, such as alternative parking locations and additional 24-hour security, with the condo trustees.
But Godinho, the Seaport Lofts trustee, challenged that assertion, saying his group has not yet received any formal mitigation offers.
Bonnie McGilpin, a spokeswoman for the Walsh administration, said the city’s responsibility for repaving and clean-up is consistent with the responsibilities for any large event, and that race organizers will pay for all city permits and police details.
“We continue to be confident that this will be a great event for the city of Boston, bringing fans and visitors to our hotels, restaurants, and shops on what is typically a quiet weekend,” McGilpin said in an e-mail.