No Takeoff In Sight As Ge Backs Off Need For Heliport
City and state officials still plan to move forward with plans to add a public heliport on the South Boston waterfront, even after its marquee client GE said it no longer needs it to shuttle executives to its new Hub headquarters.
“The state and the city have been interested in adding a heliport in Boston way before GE decided to come to Boston, and that interest still remains,” said John Barros, chief of economic development for Boston. “We’re happy for GE, but what we’re hearing is there’s a lot more interest and need for a heliport in Boston.”
The helipad was originally promised in the incentive package to lure GE to Boston, prompting a search for the right site. Yesterday MassDOT spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard also said the state would continue with its plans.
GE’s helicopters have been landing and taking off from Logan Airport, and the company said yesterday that service is better than expected.
GE had concerns over the amount of Logan air traffic affecting takeoff and landing times as well as vehicle traffic traveling from the airport to the new Fort Point headquarters, but neither of those ended up being a problem. Still, the company said a heliport in Boston would be helpful.
“We have told the city and state that our experience at Logan has been positive,” GE spokeswoman Sue Bishop said in a statement. But she added, “We agree with the city and state that a helipad should be part of the overall transportation strategy for Boston.”
The search for a heliport site has run into stiff resistance from area residents and businesses, who object to the noise and say the money could be better used elsewhere. City Councilor Michael Flaherty, who lives in South Boston, said GE’s comments should open the door to examining other parts of the city.
“It should never be about one company, it should be what’s in the best interest of the whole city,” Flaherty said. “The fact that GE says they don’t need it anymore allows us to expand the search area, which should include Logan Airport.”
Mayoral candidate and City Councilor Tito Jackson said a city heliport simply should not be built.
“I find it wholly unacceptable and I demand the administration stop this idea and actually focus on the issues and needs of the city of Boston,” Jackson said.
Barros said officials have extended the search process as they investigate concerns over noise at potential locations after a public meeting last month. Barros said the city will continue to focus on the South Boston waterfront despite the GE comments.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from the public that flying over neighborhoods was something that was a major concern, so we’ve tried to keep it close to the waterfront,” Barros said. “We are considering other parts of the waterfront because of the FAA approved flightpath for helicopters.”