Boston IndyCar opponents ask for environmental review

Opponents of an Indycar race planned for the Seaport over Labor Day weekend are trying to stop the checkered flag by erecting more red tape.

The Coalition Against IndyCarBoston has asked Governor Charlie Baker’s administration to require race promoters, the City of Boston and state agencies working with the Grand Prix of Boston to undergo an extensive review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, typically a painstaking and time-consuming process.

“We feel strongly that the race will cause major harm to the environment, including damage due to noise, traffic, construction, hazardous waste, and improper use of tidelands property," Larry Bishoff, cochairman of the coalition, said in a statement.

Opponents laid out their case in an 18-page letter Monday to Matthew A. Beaton, secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and Deirdre Buckley, assistant secretary. They argue that several elements of the race should trigger a review, including planned road construction, effects on traffic, noise, potential threats to parks and other issues, according to a copy of the letter.

John Casey, chief financial officer of Grand Prix of Boston, said he had just received a copy of the letter Monday, and the Grand Prix’s engineers will take the time to address each point.

“At first blush, it is clear that there are a lot of misconceptions about what the race’s impacts actually are, from construction timeline to traffic, noise and environmental impacts," Casey said in a statement. “The Grand Prix is currently undergoing an exhaustive state and city review process designed to assess the level of impact in each of these areas. Despite the fact that the event does not appear to trigger MEPA review, we have met with MEPA and shared specifics of the event plans so that they can make a determination."

Promoters last year proposed the high-speed auto race on a 2.2-mile temporary street course around the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, on Sept. 2 to 4. In May they signed an agreement with Mayor Martin J. Walsh to hold the race in 2016, and annually for up to four more years.

The Grand Prix in November alleviated some opposition by striking a deal with residents of a condo building on the racecourse. In exchange for a mitigation package, the Seaport Lofts Condominium Association dropped its opposition to the Grand Prix. Terms were kept confidential.

In December, the promoters signed a letter of intent with representatives of several government agencies whose cooperation was needed for the race to go forward. The agencies — the Massachusetts Port Authority, the state Convention Center Authority, the state Department of Transportation, and the MBTA — agreed that they intended to negotiate with promoters and enter into binding agreements for the race. The agreement also stated that the Grand Prix of Boston will be responsible for costs associated with the event. Mark Arsenault/Boston Globe

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