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Residents, community activists ask city to block Fenway Park project

By Meg Vaillancourt, Globe Staff, 04/13/00

More than 70 Fenway-area residents and community activists pleaded with Boston city councilors last night to block the team's proposed new $600 million Fenway Park project.

Arguing that additional traffic generated by the 45,000-seat facility would result in a range of environmental and public health hazards, the Fenway residents urged city officials to oppose the Red Sox's bid for city funds and to vote against using the city's eminent domain powers to acquire the proposed 14-acre ballpark site.

"The Fenway area already has one of the worst air quality records in the city," James Morgan of the Fenway Action Coalition said as he pulled out a soot-covered sponge.

"This is from my windows now. . . . Fenway streets are already gridlocked and public transit is at capacity, so we cannot handle a bigger stadium and a million more fans. With them will come more smog, asthma, and other health problems."

Morgan was one of more than two dozen people who testified at last night's hearing, sponsored by City Councilors Francis M. Roache, Chuck Turner (Roxbury), and Michael P. Ross (Beacon Hill). While the topic was the health issues associated with large development projects under way throughout the city, much of the testimony was focused on the new ballpark plan.

"I think the Red Sox should go back to the drawing board," said Ross, who represents the Fenway neighborhood. "If I had to vote on the land takings today I would oppose them."

In place of the new ballpark, many residents urged the council to embrace the so-called urban village plan promoted by the Fenway Community Development Corporation. The plan calls for 1,500 housing units to be built above ground-floor retail shops on both sides of Boylston Street, improved public transit, a neighborhood school, and a community center.

"The Red Sox understand the council's and community's concerns and will address them," said Red Sox spokeswoman Micho Spring. "We're committed to increasing the use of public transit as we've done this season with free shuttle service from Ruggles station."

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