Harvard's community benefits - Nov 29 meeting

Happy Thanksgiving. One thing I think that North Allston has to be thankful for is the amazing opportunity we have, with Harvard, to discover new and wonderful opportunities for our community and the people who live here. It is also special that we have so many people who care about this neighborhood and are committed to its health and vitality. Seeing 120+ people at the November 13 Harvard Task Force meeting was a great showing that demonstrated the engagement and interest of so many people.

The next Harvard Task Force meeting is next Wednesday, November 29. Like other Task Force meetings, it is at 6:30 at the Honan Library. This is another very important meeting because the topic is the community benefits that Harvard will provide to North Allston as part of the Science Complex and Art Museum development that Harvard plans to start next year. There will also be a much larger round of community benefits negotiated next year when Harvard submits their master plan for the next 10 years of their development. Like the scope of Harvard's development, the scope of that benefits agreement will be unprecedented. Starting the conversation now gives us the opportunity to develop a strong plan that spans the benefits that will be negotiated this year and next year.

Some of these benefits are likely to be physical improvements to our infrastructure (such as our roads) or public realm and open space (such as parks). Others could be related to Harvard's resources as a place of learning and teaching in such areas as medicine and public health. Or the Harvard Extension School could be made more accessible to members of our community. (Currently there are some opportunities for free Extension School credit for Allston and Brighton residents. I wonder how many people have taken advantage of this opportunity in the past. My sense is that there is not much publicity about it.) There has also been talk about the employment opportunities that will be created at Harvard's Science Complex and their subsequent developments. In other Boston neighborhoods, Harvard partners with the community through organizations like The Boston Health Care and Research Training Institute to provide education, skills training, career coaching and other services to help people obtain well-paid positions in the health care industry.

So, there are many different ways that benefits from Harvard can be good for Harvard and for North Allston and its residents. I hope you will join us on the 29th and send your thoughts to AllstonBrighton2006@googlegroups.com so we can understand the benefits that would be most important to you and your goals for our community.

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