$25M that isn't really $25M

Some friends, after reading the press coverage of the BRA's approval of Harvard's Science Complex, have written to say "Wow! 25 million dollars of community benefits. You did great!"

If only it were true.

At the September 26 Task Force meeting Harvard gave this presentation that ended with a summary showing that Harvard was proposing $16.6 million of one-time community benefits and a 10 year total of $25,640,000. This came at the very end of the meeting and there wasn't much time for questions. The benefits were divided into three broad categories (lifelong learning, economic development, and neighborhood enhancements). What neighborhood enhancements, I wondered, was Harvard offering that would total $16,020,000?

I emailed Harvard and asked for more detail and a timeline to describe when these benefits would be delivered. It was nice to get a response back in just a few hours, but not so nice because it created more questions than it answered. One thing this email did explain was that Harvard tried to count as Science Complex benefits some long-past community involvement like the funding it provided for the Honan Apartments on Everett St back in 2003.

Apparently, the BRA decided that approximately $5,000,000 that Harvard was trying to associate with the Science Complex have nothing to do with the Science Complex and should not be treated as Science Complex community benefits. Harvard's email had very few specifics, just some vague, forward looking language about "establishing a working relationship going forward" and how perhaps the "Task Force, Harvard and the City can discuss a work plan for sharing information about program development".

All I was hoping for was a simple spreadsheet that might look like this:

Title Cost Completion Date (MM/YY)
Citywide Job Trust Fund $768,000
Citywide Housing Trust Fund $3,800,000
TOTAL $25,460,000

I tried to clarify my request, but 5 days later there has been no reply. Either:

  1. Harvard made up the $25M number and has no analysis to back it up
  2. Harvard is not willing to explain its community benefits proposal to the community that is supposed to benefit from it.

Maybe there is some other possibility #3 (too busy, dog ate it...). Will the BRA will give us this information (if they have it) or compel Harvard to produce it?


  1. Anonymous12:34 PM

    "establishing a working relationship going forward."


    Just more obfuscation from HU.

  2. Anonymous10:32 PM

    I guess this guy bruce is a puppet for Harvard and I AM sorry i called you that Harry. He is trying to conceal unpleasant facts about Harvard University and was possibaly paid off to say what he said in this BLOG. jimmy....