Battenfeld: Michelle Wu says no ‘plan B’ for White Stadium if soccer proposal fails

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu says she has no “plan B” for renovating Franklin Park’s White Stadium if a proposed soccer stadium fails – repeating a pattern of drawing a hard line in the sand over fierce neighborhood opposition.

It’s the latest example of Wu’s go for broke governing style that has marked her first term and sometimes forced her to back down – like abandoning her plan to move the O’Bryant School to West Roxbury.

It’s puzzling why Wu is sometimes seemingly afraid to handle the give and take of being a mayor and sometimes compromising to get her way.

The 39-year-old mayor is extremely smart and personable and articulate, so she has nothing to fear by engaging the neighborhoods and business community.

She may get a few boos or complaints once in a while but she can handle it.

Whoever is advising her to take these hard line stances is giving her bad advice.

Even the late Thomas Menino – who jokingly walked around with a baseball bat to underscore his mayoral power – understood he had to go to the community and sit down with business leaders.

Former Mayor Ray Flynn would send out his trusted Boston Redevelopment Authority chief Steve Coyle to face the music when a plan hit opposition.

Flynn was a neighborhood mayor who realized you can’t just impose your will on a community.

Wu has yet to learn that lesson.

Whether it’s jamming new bike lanes down communities’ throats, or mandating a fossil fuel ban for new development, or proposing a hike in the commercial tax rate that business leaders say will wreck new development, Wu insists on making these unilateral decisions despite opposition.

Wu made the comment about White Stadium on Friday in an interview on WBUR’s “Radio Boston” show, where she has a regular sit down with host Tiziana Dearing.

“Is there a plan B for bringing White Stadium back?” Dearing asked.

“There is not a plan B,” Wu responded.

Okay…so what happens if a lawsuit filed against the privatized soccer stadium plan is successful?

Wu has no answer for that.

White Stadium, which sits in one of the crown jewels of Boston – Franklin Park –  is old and dilapidated and badly needs a complete overhaul or a brand new stadium.

It’s used by Boston Public School kids, but Wu wants the city – in partnership with the women’s professional soccer entity, which includes Boston Globe CEO Linda Henry as an investor  – to rebuild the stadium with $50 million from the city and $50 million from the pro soccer group. The soccer team would have first dibs over its usage for games and practices.

But surrounding neighbors and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy have filed a lawsuit to block the plan, arguing it has been rammed through with no community input and would violate the law by privatizing land that has been deeded public.

Wu has suggested that if the lawsuit succeeds, she will spend the $50 million on the schools, but she did not repeat that on Friday in the WBUR interview.

“We are full steam ahead,” Wu said.

Wu on Friday also staunchly defended her commercial tax hike home rule petition, saying the opposition was due to “doomsaying” and misinformation by business groups.

White Stadium needs an update, but is locked in a proposal to make it a home for female pro soccer players. (Herald file photo)

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