Last week (on page two of our June 16 issue), South Boston Online editorialized against a proposal to hold 18 performances of a ticketed, for-profit Halloween event called “Fright Island” in Fort Independence on Castle Island. “Fright Island” would be joint effort between local entrepreneurs and a Las Vegas event staging group; it would perhaps be somewhat similar to New Hampshire’s “Spooky World”; and it would take place annually for up to 18 years.
The Massachusetts DCR (Department of Conservation and Resources) is backing “Fright Island” as a way to raise what it refers to as badly needed state funds to further the DCR’s mission. On Saturday morning, June 18, DCR Commissioner Leo Roy, who was appointed by Governor Baker, addressed South Boston residents on “Fright Island”. Over a hundred people showed up, so the meeting had to be relocated from the Fort to the Murphy Rink. Roy insisted he was here to listen, and while the decision was his to make, he stated (several times) that he had not yet decided whether to approve the event.
Commissioner Roy spoke about his three goals for the DCR – more collaboration, enhanced public service, and increased support for his agency. He specifically mentioned that the DCR funding situation was worse than the recessions in the 1990s. He listed five DCR priorities – broader participation, fundraising, enjoyment, safety, and so on – and then opened the meeting for comments.
The comments were notable because every single one of them was emphatically negative. The opposition to “Fright Island” by those who attended last Saturday’s meeting was 100% total. South Boston Online has already stated our firm opposition to “Fright Island” in the Fort (take it to City Hall Plaza). We’ll simply list a cross section of the comments made at the meeting on Saturday:
“It doesn’t belong in Fort Independence – a historic site”, “Liquor served on Castle Island – are you kidding me?”, “We’re getting conflicting information – is this for kids or not?”, “Where are our reps?”, “They’ve already decided to have it. It’s all a done deal.”, “Fright Island is not just for a year – it’ll be signed up for 18 years in the future.”, “We can raise the money the DCR needs on our own.”, “It will interfere with regular Castle Island operations.”, “It’s not for us, it’s for newcomers.”
You get the message – no “Fright Island”. No way!