Temporary helistop coming as early as Sept.

State official: No site yet, but it could pay for itself

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

ONE OF THE POTENTIAL FRUITS of General Electric’s deal to move to Boston – a full heliport – could be established in Boston and a state official on Monday said a temporary helistop could be set up as soon as September.

The deal between the state, Boston and GE called for coordination between the city and state to facilitate a “new public helipad” in Boston, subject to Federal Aviation Administration approval.

State Aeronautics Director Jeffrey DeCarlo told transportation officials Monday that discussions about returning a helicopter facility to Boston had been ongoing since at least August, well before GE decided to move its headquarters from Fairfield, Conn.

Logan Airport has a helipad, as do some private businesses – including the Boston Globe, WBZ and major hospitals – and until the late 1990s Boston had helicopter facilities at Nashua Street and on Fargo Street, the current site of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, according to a presentation to transportation overseers.

DeCarlo likened a helistop to a bus stop, while a heliport is a more full-service operation similar to a bus station. He said establishing a temporary helistop by September is “doable,” but declined to say where it might go.

“We do not have a site that I can report at this time,” DeCarlo told transportation officials on Monday. The plan would then be to gather a Boston Heliport Advisory Group to make recommendations about a permanent site for a heliport, according to DeCarlo’s presentation.

helicopter

DeCarlo said there’s a “possibility” that the facilities “could pay for themselves.”

One member of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors pushed back against the notion that any aspect of a helipad should be publicly subsidized.

“If there is this compelling need, notwithstanding Logan, why would we not go into such an operation looking to recoup all of our costs?” said Robert Moylan, the former public works commissioner for Worcester. He said, “I don’t know why we would be looking to subsidize a heliport in any way, shape or form.”

In response, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack noted that roads and public transit are subsidized.

Moylan suggested Boston, where the international manufacturing company will set up shop, could consider “making us whole in this endeavor.”

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Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

Pollack said helicopters using the facility would not be for sightseeing.

“This would not be for helicopter tours,” Pollack said.