State, city officials reopen search for helipad site after hearing concerns
City and state officials are reopening the search for a helipad location in Boston after hearing concerns about their proposal to install one at the pier behind the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.
The state Department of Transportation had previously narrowed the search down to the area around the city-owned pier, known as Dry Dock 4. But that plan drew opposition from critics, including Live Nation executive Don Law and Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz, at a hearing held last week by a task force studying the helipad issue. The task force was supposed to hold a second hearing on Monday, but that one was postponed indefinitely.
The Walsh and Baker administrations included a state-funded helipad as part of a package of incentives to persuade General Electric Co. to relocate to Boston. The city hasn’t had a public-use helipad since 1999.
City and state officials already ruled out the Fort Point Channel, the area where GE’s new headquarters will be built, to appease Fort Point residents.
Law and Berkowitz submitted a letter to the task force, suggesting instead that state officials consider a Massachusetts Port Authority-controlled property known as the “North Jetty,” in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park. But Massport is already moving ahead with plans to develop that site.
Law is worried about the impact helicopter flights would have on the Live Nation-operated concert pavilion, while Berkowitz is concerned about the effects on his flagship restaurant complex at Liberty Wharf next door.
“I like the idea of a helipad, but not in a heavily trafficked public area,” Berkowitz said.
John Barros, the city’s economic development chief, said he expects state transportation officials will compile more information about sound impacts and other potential sites, including the North Jetty, before reconvening the task force.
Jay Ash, Governor Charlie Baker’s top economic development aide, said there is no timetable for a decision. “We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing,” Ash said. “GE would benefit from it, but so would other companies.”