South Boston industrial park eyed as spot for helipad

The Boston Globe | By Jon Chesto
November 17, 2016

ge-helipadCity and state officials picked an industrial area of South Boston’s waterfront as the preferred location for the first public-use helipad near downtown Boston in more than 16 years.

After months of reviewing potential sites, leaders in the Walsh and Baker administrations settled on a city-owned pier behind the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. Options include building on the pier; a floating barge next to the pier; or an adjacent property controlled by the Massachusetts Port Authority. Officials unveiled the locations during a packed City Council hearing at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on Wednesday night.

The concept of a helipad has been discussed in the city for years, after two landing sites available for use by the general public closed in 1999. (Helicopters can still land at Logan International Airport, on the other side of the harbor, and medical flights regularly land at city hospitals.)

City officials, under former Mayor Thomas M. Menino, came close to getting one built in 2008 in the South Boston marine industrial park, not far from the new location but closer to the neighborhood’s traditional residential area. Fierce neighborhood opposition killed that project.

General Electric’s decision in January to relocate to Boston from Connecticut revived discussions about finding a potential location. The Baker administration said it could pay for a helicopter landing facility as part of up to $125 million in state infrastructure grants offered to lure GE here.

John Barros, the city’s economic development chief, said the helipad would be expected to accommodate an estimated 10 to 20 flights a day, although there aren’t plans to open it to sightseeing operations. The goal, he said, would be to create a temporary no-frills “helistop” to gauge demand and its impact before building a permanent facility.

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