Foes of Boston Indy race say officials are bribing people

IndyCar organizers offered “priority access" to the Labor Day weekend event’s musical acts to lure supporters to a potentially contentious public meeting in Fort Point, prompting accusations of an effort to “bribe" neighbors for support.

The post on the Grand Prix of Boston’s Facebook page has since been taken down and blamed on an overzealous employee. But it immediately irked race critics, who decried it as a bid to drown out the opposition at one of the first public meetings on the controversial high-speed car race that’s being planned for the Seaport District’s streets and tunnels.

The Facebook post, which went up several hours before the Tuesday evening meeting, called on people “to support the Grand Prix of Boston."

“We know it’s challenging weather, but for all those who come to support us, we will give you priority access to all music events of the race," the post read, adding that the as-yet unannounced musical acts have a “combined 38 Grammy awards" and 17 Country Music Television awards.

“This will be a rare opportunity to see these large performers in intimate venues," the post read.

“I thought it was really a cheap shot," said Larry Bishoff, a Seaport resident and co-chairman of the Coalition Against IndyCar Boston who attended the meeting at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

David E. Lurie, an attorney working against the race, said the move “to induce public participation at a public hearing smacked of a bribe."

Grand Prix of Boston officials backpedaled yesterday, insisting that no passes were given out or promised to anyone.

“We asked a young staffer to put up a Facebook post to encourage people to attend the community meeting," Harry Pierre, a Grand Prix of Boston spokesman, said in a statement. “Unfamiliar with how these meetings are structured, and in an attempt to create excitement and enthusiasm, she posted about the musical acts. We apologize for the error."

About 100 people attended the event including, Bishoff said, some voices of support.

Bishoff’s group has pushed the state to require IndyCar to undergo a review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, arguing they feel the event could cause “major harm to the environment."

A state spokesman said no formal MEPA filing has been submitted, but in a letter to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the IndyCar organizers argue the event doesn’t meet the “threshold" to spark an environmental review.

“We are considering the race a one-time event, although if successful it could be extended an additional four years," the Feb. 5 letter states. “Most of the impacts of the event will be temporary. Most of the setups … will be removed after the weekend. Most of the roadways will be returned to their original condition." Matt Stout/Boston Herald

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