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Members of the Gentle Giant rowing team practiced on the Mystic River in October 2014.
Members of the Gentle Giant rowing team practiced on the Mystic River in October 2014.Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff/File

The editorial page’s effort to coax the Boston Olympic bid organizers and Mayor Walsh to reshape the 2024 Olympic bid into the “catalyst needed to transform the city in time for its 400th birthday” is well-intentioned but hopelessly unrealistic.

If Boston is selected by the International Olympic Committee in summer 2017, it will have just seven years to prepare. This is a highly complex undertaking, involving site assembly, design and engineering, permitting, financing, and construction of a 60,000-seat Olympic stadium, multiple other event venues, a 16,500-bed Athletes’ Village, support facilities, and extensive public infrastructure. It will take enormous time and effort among Olympic organizers, private developers, and multiple public agencies at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure that everything is completed on time.

It is wishful thinking to envision simultaneously taking on “transformative” projects, such as cleaning up the Mystic River, that are tangential to Olympics preparation and would only add to costs and the potential for delay.


Meanwhile, Mayor Walsh has kicked off the city’s first comprehensive planning effort in 50 years. While not explicitly tied to the Olympics bid, it is not a stretch to infer that the timing of this initiative is not coincidental. Nonetheless, the planning process for Imagine Boston 2030 is not scheduled to be completed until summer 2017, long after the outlines of the Olympic bid have been finalized.

In contrast, the planning that underlay the 1992 Barcelona Olympics bid, which the Globe cites as a model, began in the mid-1970s.

As the saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. The Olympics is about the Olympics. When push comes to shove, all the other grand ideas will fall away.

Peter Kwass, Boston