Letters to the Editor

Don’t Look the Other Way

To the Editor,

Thank you to the East Boston Times and Michael Coughlin Jr. for covering this issue. 

We represent Airport Impact Relief, Incorporated (AIR, Inc.), a community volunteer group which has been active since 1981, and whose founding members’ involvement dates back to the 1960’s.

In last week’s East Boston Times article entitled “Some Aren’t Celebrating Logan Airport’s 100-Year Milestone and Terminal Modernization,” Valinda Chan of Mothers Out Front and Jule Manitz of Extinction Rebellion Boston say it is important for Massport, the state, and the city to focus on compensation. As a volunteer at AIR, Inc., I posit that not only are mitigation advancements necessary and available – for instance, installation of affordable air filtration devices in classrooms and homes and more aggressive management of noise and pollution sources, such as idling – but there are many viable environmentally beneficial policy alternatives which must be considered. The problem is that our state leaders are mesmerized by the beating of Massport’s drums claiming that Logan is the state’s economic engine: an unsupported claim which ignores the public health costs and the cost of traffic congestion, to name a few issues.

The Governor apparently subscribes to the flawed thinking that, “We need to make some environmental sacrifices for the sake of progress.” This is the underlying message leaders send when they celebrate Massport’s continuous expansion of Logan Airport. Just to be clear, the “we” in that sentence are politicians and CEOs of fossil fuel companies. The “sacrifices” are the residents of East Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere, which also happen to be largely working class, lower income, and minority communities (also known as environmental justice communities). Our neighbors’ health and quality of life are sacrificed every day “for the sake of progress.” 

While mitigation is necessary, our state needs to change its policy of looking the other way as aviation pollutes our region and causes chronic disease. There are simple fixes. For example, right now Massport’s policy is to allow free curbside access for pick-up and drop-off of passengers at Logan’s terminals. This is an unforced error. Boston and Logan Airport are choking on Logan‘s automotive traffic. Covid hesitancy has exacerbated this issue and has surely now caused Logan‘s daily weekday traffic to surpass all-time highs. To give a frame of reference, Massport reported that average daily weekday traffic was at 143,189 in 2019, but it is likely higher now. 

While we grapple with the best approach to meeting our region’s growing air travel demand, a difficult problem as Massport has no plan B and has left us with Logan as the only option, leaders such as Governor Healey and Mayor Wu need to double down on their commitments to environmental justice and make the hard choices to establish an airport roadway fee or a parking system which forces pick-up and drop-off movements into garages and charges for entry. 

At the same time, Logan Express fares should not be jerry-rigged to be more expensive than parking at Logan, as they are now. Instead, Logan Express service should be improved, expanded, and its cost reduced. These two suggestions go hand-in-hand. 

It is important to acknowledge that those who are opposed to airport expansion including AIR, Inc., Mothers Out Front, XR Boston, and many others are not simply anti-everything. There are viable alternatives. But until our elected officials stop looking the other way and demand that Massport turn its ambitions toward reducing environmental impacts, or until they clean house at the Massachusetts Port Authority, nothing is going to change.

Thank you,

Chris Marchi and

Gail Miller

Airport Impact Relief

BPDA & City Officials Offer Expert Recommenda-Tions for Infrastructure Reconfigura-Tions With No Traffic Study

To the Editor,

We are writing to express our deep concern and frustration regarding the lack of attention and response from our city officials regarding our collective efforts to garner over 3,000 signatures of support for the construction of the East Boston Haul Road. It is disheartening to see our voices being ignored throughout the BPDA PLAN: East Boston process, despite the overwhelming community support for this much-needed infrastructure improvement.

The haul road has been a topic of discussion for years now, and it has gained substantial backing from East Boston residents and businesses alike. Yet, the BPDA, has decided to leave it out of their recommendations for the Chelsea Creek Corridor – land they do not own – claiming a haul road would only serve 2% of trucks. However, that 2% comes from MassDOT itself and represents 2% of ALL traffic on Route 1A, which equates to over 1,000 trucks per day that would no longer be using neighborhood streets. But the bigger issue is, they have come to their infrastructure improvement and roadway configuration conclusions without conducting a traffic study. What they’ve also failed to consider is the increased number of trucks that will continue to drive through East Boston to access the airport, regardless of what happens with the industrial parcels along McClellan Highway, due to the growth of airport related services north of the city line, as close as Suffolk Downs. 

The benefits of extending the Coughlin Bypass are undeniable – alleviating traffic congestion, improving transit reliability and accessibility to the airport, addressing climate resiliency concerns, and creating open space and waterfront walking/biking opportunities for our community. It’s puzzling that city officials have chosen to disregard our voices and fail to engage in a meaningful dialogue about this matter.

Furthermore, we must express our disappointment with certain environmental groups that have been resistant to collaborating and working towards a solution that can satisfy both the environmental concerns and the needs of our community. While we wholeheartedly support environmental conservation efforts, it is essential to strike a balance between environmental protection and the well-being of our community members. Collaborative efforts should be made to find common ground and address any potential environmental issues associated with extending the Coughlin Bypass.

It is our hope that our city officials will start paying attention to the genuine concerns and desires of their constituents. East Boston residents have demonstrated their support for the haul road in a clear and unified manner. It is time for our elected officials to take our voices seriously and engage in a constructive dialogue to find a solution that benefits everyone involved.

We urge the BPDA and our elected officials to initiate a transparent and inclusive process for discussing the haul road, involving all stakeholders, and including the concerned environmental groups. By working together, we can develop a balanced and sustainable solution that meets the needs of our community while respecting the waterfront.

We implore our city officials to prioritize the interests and desires of East Boston residents and address the pressing issue of the haul road with the urgency it deserves. It is time for our voices to be heard, and for meaningful action to be taken in response to our collective plea for a better, safer and more accessible East Boston.

Committee in

Support of the East Boston Haul Road

Cardinal Publishes Letter to the Archdiocese of Boston on Major Humnaitarian and Societal Crisis

Dear Editor:

Cardinal Seán O’Malley has written to pastors and the parishes of the Archdiocese regarding a growing humanitarian and societal crisis that is building in the Commonwealth and Archdiocese of Boston. The issue involves the fate of immigrants arriving daily in Massachusetts, and in need of basic shelter and compassionate care.

The Cardinal highlights the immediate challenges and growing crisis and offers guidance to parishes how they can assist in meeting essential needs of a rising immigrant population. The following is the text of the letter:

I write to you today to speak about a major humanitarian and societal crisis that is building in the State of Massachusetts and within our Archdiocese. Please take the time to review this letter with your parish staff and prepare your parishioners to be ready and willing to assist. The challenge is the fate of immigrants arriving daily in Massachusetts, and in need of basic shelter and compassionate care and welcome.

First, allow me to give a brief explanation of the crisis that we are currently facing, but which is sure to become much larger. Next, I will outline what we have done and what we are doing. Finally, I will ask for specific help, so that we can act now before the need becomes overwhelming.

I. The Situation: Presently there are 7000 families being cared for in state sponsored shelters (approximately 20,000 individuals); by October 31st the expectation is that 7500 families will be with us.

Gov. Healey and Lt. Gov. Driscoll have been deeply committed and determined to care for a rising immigration population, but they have also been honest in saying that the Commonwealth faces a mounting crisis beyond its capacity to respond effectively.

II. What we have done: The Archdiocese, through Catholic Charities, St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children and the Archdiocesan Planning Office for Urban Affairs has worked closely with the Healey-Driscoll Administration and with other non-profit agencies even as the flow of immigrants has increased geometrically in the last few months. All three of those agencies have expanded capacity to address both the short and long-term needs for housing and supportive services. Over these past months, we have offered the State the use of 8 of our buildings, which we hope it will be able to authorize and use. In addition, some of our parishes have already received new shelters and people into their communities as the Commonwealth has greatly expanded its shelter capacity. The Archdiocese has offered assistance to those parishes, and we will continue to offer help to any parishes and communities we are not yet aware of needing assistance. As noted above, our three Archdiocesan affiliated agencies are deeply engaged in this crisis. Our relationship with the Healey-Driscoll administration has been constant and consistent. Recently, we have partnered with our very effective Saint Vincent de Paul Society to plan for how we can prepare for the cold weather coming; most of the recently arrived families are from warmer climates.

III. How can each and every parish help: The challenge is a local one in the sense that only some of the neighborhoods and parish communities will deal with shelters in their areas; however, the challenge is for all of us as an Archdiocese. The Saint Vincent de Paul Society has the appropriate storage and ability to collect and distribute items directly to those in need. Therefore, my request is that you work with them in your parishes/collaboratives for a drive this November prior to the cold weather.

Accordingly, I am asking parishes to consider the following:

1. If you do not have a St. Vincent de Paul bin in your parish, I urge you to please contact their vendor directly, CMRK. which delivers their bins to parishes. Simply call (508) 351-9000 and ask for Patrick to schedule a delivery.

2. Announce this invitation and the reason for it to your parishioners and invite them to donate winter coats, boots, socks which will be picked up on November 18 just prior to Thanksgiving.

3. The St. Vincent de Paul Society will pick up the clothing, store it at its facility in Stoughton. and then distribution will be made to those in shelters throughout the Archdiocese.

4 In addition to winter clothing, other resources which can be donated at the same time and in the same bins include the following items: diapers. toothbrushes (adult and child size). toothpaste, soap, deodorant, mouthwash, combs, lotion. shampoo. washcloth, and Kleenex tissues.

5. Beyond these immediate actions, there may arise a time when all shelters are filled to capacity and weather conditions require immediate assistance for families in the New England winter. If this occurs offering short-term critical care and shelter in the biblical sense of “welcoming the stranger” will be the appropriate response from the Archdiocese as a whole. If you have buildings for this short-term purpose, please contact Fr. Bryan Hehir’s office at (617) 746-5738 or (617) 746-5733.

I stress that this is a crisis but is only going to expand. I offer this invitation in the spirit of Pope Francis who has asked us as Catholics to watch the “peripheries” of society where suffering is located. In our time, migrants and refugees are among the most vulnerable individuals and families in the United States. It is my hope and desire that as a Church we respond generously and effectively.

With the assurance of my prayers and gratitude for your service to the Church,

Devotedly yours in Christ,


Sean O’Malley

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