I respect and admire the time and diligent work the Harvard Task Force has undertaken to move the community process forward regarding the Science Complex development. My intentions are not to discredit the hard work of the task force. They have put in countless hours and sacrificed many months of their personal time. While campaigning through the neighborhood of North Allston, I have walked the site of the proposed Science Complex Development outlined in the Draft Project Impact Report (DPIR). I was troubled and then angered at the deplorable condition of the site. Buildings partially painted, locked gates with fencing peeled back, overgrown weeds and asphalt sidewalks with unsafe ditches is an unacceptable way for a prestigious and powerful institution to begin its fifty year expansion into our neighborhood. Certainly Harvard can afford to spend the necessary money to hire local painters, landscapers and contractors that would take pride in beautifying and improving our community. Harvard is an institution which touts its social justice credentials internationally; they should be ashamed at how they disregard their neighbors.
The Task Force has proposed an agenda to meet weekly to finalize the article 80 process (75 day comment period) without discussing community benefits until after construction begins. This process to review community benefits should start when Harvard repairs and completes the work promised in 1997. In addition, The Task Force and community are relinquishing leverage to negotiate if this process continues without these remedies. How can we trust Harvard will live up to any of their agreements and treat our neighborhood with respect and dignity in the next fifty years when they haven’t done so in the past ten?
I have negotiated numerous contracts and agreements throughout my professional and civic experiences. I understand the importance of timing in the bargaining process. If we wait until Harvard attains approval for the DPIR and begins construction to raise points about community benefits, our community will be in a very weak bargaining position. Instead, I suggest that as meeting’s focus on different aspects of the project, community benefits related to those aspects of the project be brought into the discussion. Construction and transportation will have the greatest impact on the quality of life in our neighborhood for years to come and the benefits to the community and to those directly impacted should be part of the discussion and put on the record.
Mark Ciommo, Candidate
Allston-Brighton District City Council
Mark Ciommo sent along these thoughts about Harvard University and its relationship with Allston. If other candidates have thoughts they'd like to share I'll be happy to publish them too.
Posted by Harry Mattison on 7/18/2007 06:47:00 PM