Tempers flared and questions remained unanswered at a fiery meeting of Allston residents and Harvard officials last Wednesday.
The meeting marked the first discussion with Allston residents since the University released a robust 50-year plan earlier this month for its fledgling campus across the Charles River.
Allston resident Matthew Snyder expressed frustration with the University’s response.
“I come to these meetings for answers. And I didn’t get any,” Snyder said.
“I think there’s a huge disconnect between the community of Allston and Harvard,” he added.
Pete Sampras, one of the best tennis players in the history of the storied game, will be coming back to play competitive tennis very soon. However, fans won't be seeing him on a court trying to stop Roger Federer from breaking his Grand Slam singles record. Instead, he will be playing in tennis' senior circuit for players over 30.
Sampras let his intentions be known in an interview with AP. He said his first match back will be in the Outback Champions Series tournament scheduled for May 2-6 in Boston at the Boston University Agganis Arena on Comm Ave in Allston.
Thursday, February 8
6 - 8 p.m.
The Kells 161 Brighton Ave
Learn about what is happening in Allston Village and meet Mark Hayes, our new police captain. Cash bar & FREE FOOD from Allston Village's newest restaurants.
A new program, Boston About Results, was launched last summer to provide the mayor, and citizens, quantitative measures of how well the city is providing the services it promises. This Globe article looks at the results and publishes the "report cards" for several City departments.
An interesting op-ed piece in today's Times. Brings to mind the many ways that our neighborhood could be more pedestrian and bike friendly on Western Ave, N Harvard, Cambridge St, from our homes to the river, and throughout the area.
THE PATRICK administration has been handed a major opportunity to improve the commuter rail network in eastern Massachusetts. The CSX railroad corporation wants to sell its rail lines west to Worcester, south to Fall River and New Bedford, and north to Somerville...
A state takeover would allow the MBTA to expand service by shifting from a one-track to a two-track operation. It would also provide land for construction of a commuter rail station near the proposed Harvard campus in Allston...
But it sounds as if CSX is phasing out its freight service to the rail yards in Allston, and, if that's the case, it will not need rail lines in eastern Massachusetts...
Harvard's 20 year plan proposed 1.4 million square feet of new housing in North Allston. This is 800,000 sq ft of undergraduate housing, 350,000 sq ft of graduate housing, and 250,000 sq ft of Business School housing.
How many people would live in 1.4 million square feet of housing? Harvard estimates that there will be 590 beds in the 350,000 square feet of graduate housing. That is 600 sq ft per bed. How many people sleep in each bed is another question, but I will assume it is 1 for the sake of this estimating exercise.
1.4 million square feet of housing & 600 sq. ft per person = 2,300 additional Allston residents.
On average, Boston has 7.4 acres of open space per 1,000 residents. (Allston/Brighton is well below that, with 4.8 acres per 1,000.)
If new open space should be created at the same time new residents are added at the 7.4 per 1000 ratio, that means that 17 acres of new open space should be created to accompany the 2,300 new Allston residents that Harvard plans to add.
Harvard's press release that accompanied the 50 year plan announces an intention to "create more than 30 acres of new open space". In the 20 year plan there are 3 acres of open space in Rena Park and an unspecified amount of open space that burying Soldiers Field Road and a Science Courtyard would create.
(The estimates of square footage of housing to be constructed comes from page 16 of The Plan for Harvard in Allston executive summary. The 250,000 sq ft of Business School housing is an estimate based on the 500,000 sq ft mentioned as part of a "Harvard Business School Academic and Housing" line item.)
More information about open space in Allston/Brighton is in the Boston Open Space plan. The Allston/Brighton portion of that plan is here.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino scrambled back to Boston last night from the nation's capital, outraged after a much publicized deal to sign Manuel J. Rivera as school superintendent collapsed without notice.
"If a museum of modern art is built on that site, I hope that Harvard will think big and generously about it. Let the museum have breathing room. When the Fogg was opened in 1895, a blueprint existed that showed how it might one day expand onto the adjoining site, where the Carpenter Center went up instead in 1963. The Fogg has suffered from being hemmed in by the Carpenter Center. I would be terribly disappointed if that happened at the river site. The Sackler and the Busch-Reisinger Museum in Werner Otto Hall are not what they ought to be, and even when new they weren't. Let's not do something typical of so many Harvard projects and make a building that isn't what it ought to be."
City councilors are expected to pass a home-rule petition today to put liens on the properties of those with unpaid trash fines, a move that comes days after the Herald reported Boston has not collected $3.4 million in code violations.
“I like the idea of getting tough on scofflaws and collecting money,” said City Councilor Jerry McDermott, who represents student-heavy Allston-Brighton. “Under the current system, it is too easy for landlords to say if no one is making them pay, why pay?”
Several influential department heads at Harvard Medical School are discussing the possibility of moving hundreds of researchers and staff from the Longwood medical area to Harvard's emerging campus in Allston.
The proposal under discussion, though still in very preliminary stages, could shift nearly half of the people now occupying the iconic quadrangle at the heart of the medical school -- up to 70 professors and 500 to 700 staff members -- to a new 1-million-square-feet building in Allston.
Town Gown presentations will take place at the Tuesday February 6 Planning Board meeting which begins at 7:30. The meeting will take place at the Cambridge Citywide Senior Center at 806 Massachusetts Avenue.
For more information contact Cliff Cook, Planning Information Manager, Cambridge Community Development Dept, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617/349-4656.
The 2006 Cambridge Town Gown reports from Harvard, MIT, and Lesley are online.
"As part of a massive 50 year plan to expand its Allston campus like some matter of smug Crimson tumor, Harvard announces plans to bury part of Soldiers Field Road underground to make way for a riverside park. Working-class JP residents are advised to stay away from it, for at least two reasons. MINUS 1"
The GlobeWatch column from last Sunday ("Illegal parking lots pockmark Brighton neighborhood," Jan. 14, City Weekly) concerned illegally paved parking lots on residential property in Cleveland Circle. However, this problem is ubiquitous and deserving of far greater attention by the Globe.
When fire broke out at an artists complex on Rugg Road in Allston in the early-morning hours of Dec. 29 , the impact was immediate for those who lived and worked there: about 30 people displaced, with several units damaged by fire, smoke, water, and the ax blows of firefighters.
Roughly half are now back in their homes and work spaces, with the remainder waiting to hear when, or even if, they will be allowed back in. The future is even more uncertain for an artistic event and community known as Pan9, centered on the top-floor, five-bedroom space where the fire started.
The "Charlie on the MBTA" blog has thoughts on the transportation impact of Harvard's plans for Allston
richardbradley.net has a long post about Harvard's recently announced plans for Allston. He concludes with:
"Now that I think about it, it seems this conversation needs to broaden. Harvard undergrads, athletes, and alums, as well as Allston residents, need to get involved....
Because Harvard's plan essentially privatizes an entire neighborhood, and to the untrained eye—mine—there are some real questions here."
It is great to see this speed display unit on Lincoln Street near the intersection with Everett St to help slow down traffic and make the neighborhood safer. Lincoln St has been the scene of numerous accidents over the years, including a bicyclist hit by a car and killed a couple of years ago and various incidents when cars have skidded off the road and hit walls and fences along the side of the road.
It is ironic that this piece of equipment, parked in front of the building Harvard bought last month for $16 million, was donated to the City by Boston University (note the small red letters on the main box of the machine).
"In what will be the second such filing by a major Allston-Brighton institution within a two-month period, Boston College is readying itself to file a 10-year Institutional Master Plan with the BRA."
The BC task force meetings are open to the public and are scheduled for the third Tuesday of every month at the Brighton Marine Health Center, 77 Warren St., Brighton, 6:30 p.m.
The Allston Brighton/Boston College Community Fund Committee has announced that three additional grants totaling $175,000 will be distributed in February, 2007.
$50,000 Youth Enrichment
$75,000 Civic Engagement
The deadline for applications is Friday, January 19th (today) by 5:00pm
This is in the "must read" category. It is an interview by Herald Columnist Virginia Buckingham with Mayor Menino about the future of Allston.
New building projects inevitably scare residents. If it happens in their neighborhood, they are often forced to reconstruct their lives.
So when Harvard University announces a multibillion-dollar, 200-acre plan to build what it hopes to be a sort of Harvard Square 2, it's no wonder many Allston inhabitants are weary.
A project requiring 8,712,000 square feet to create will intrude on residents' space. If the construction doesn't physically knock down their homes, the increased cost of living could be enough to kick much of the population out.
In an area where the median income is $38,941 and 23 percent of residents live in poverty, according to the Allston-Brighton Data Profile, building a high-class shopping area that could become Boston's newest tourist trap won't exactly lower rent prices.
Related to Harvard's suggestion for art and cultural buildings in Allston, this story is about what other museums in Boston do in the evenings to help make Boston a fun and interesting city.
The MFA is open late on Wednesdays, for free, and on Thursdays and Fridays at regular price. The museum's most popular night is the first Friday of each month, when it holds parties for young professional types. The new Institute of Contemporary Art also has a free night, on Thursdays, and the Museum of Science offers special programs and gourmet dishes on Friday nights. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum keeps its doors open late for special concerts, like the Feb. 16 "Composer Portraits" program featuring pieces by Conlon Nancarrow.
(The Museum of Fine Arts is open until 9:45 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays (free after 4 on Wednesdays). The Museum of Science, including its observatory (weather permitting) is open Fridays until 10 p.m.; its Science Street Cafe is open from 6 to 10 p.m.. The ICA is open Thursdays until 9 p.m. for free.)
We all know that Harvard has a lot of empty office space in Allston. Maybe they could convert space in the KMart building into a "Harvard Room" here in Allston. Even if it was open one day a week (how about Thursdays from 2-8pm) it would give many people in Allston a chance to better understand Harvard's plans.
The exhibit could have, among other things, architectural models of the Allston neighborhood and the projects that Harvard has proposed, especially the buildings that Harvard wants to start building this year.
Please attend an Allston Room Open House to learn more about the project from Chris Gordon, Chief Operating Officer and Kathy Spiegelman, Chief Planner, Allston Development Group.
Thursday, January 18, 8:00am - 9:30am
Thursday, January 25, 5:00pm - 6:30pm
1350 Massachusetts Avenue
Policy 11: Patterns
This is very interesting document that describes how the University of Oregon approaches growth and change in its campus. The section on "patterns" contains several guidelines that they seek to apply to their projects. These include:
The human scale vanishes in enormous buildings. People who use them stop identifying the staff who work there as personalities, and the staff feel like small cogs in a greater machine.
THEREFORE: To maintain human scale in campus buildings, make them small, perhaps no larger than 100,000 gross square feet (with some notable exceptions such as libraries and recreation facilities) and not more than three or four stories high. If more space is needed, the buildings should be conceived as a collection connected by arcades or bridges defining and embracing outdoor spaces.
It’s easy to be so focused on making campus projects as wonderful as possible for their users that we ignore their impacts on our neighbors.
THEREFORE: Consider each project’s impacts on neighbors and community. For example, what will the building look like from outside the campus boundaries? What parking impacts may spill over into other areas?
An important aspect of the campus’s beauty is access to sunlight, views of the sky, and human scale.
THEREFORE: Keep the majority of buildings four stories high or less. It is possible that a few buildings may exceed this limit, but strong consideration must be given to the resultant shadows and skyline to ensure the beauty of the campus and the importance of the individual.
When a university campus is separated from the town by a hard boundary, students and townspeople tend to be isolated from each other; in a subtle way the university takes on the character of a glorified high school.
THEREFORE: Ensure that the campus edges are soft and the gateways marking the boundary between university and town are welcoming and inviting to townspeople rather than shunning. For students, make easy connections to the town so they are encouraged to visit the town often.
"BOSTON IS on the verge of a building boom without a permanent director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the city's planning and development agency. Mayor Menino may be hands-on when it comes to development, but there are more projects in play than he could possibly juggle. And his judgment is anything but flawless in this area.
Massive changes are in store from North Allston, where Harvard University is planning its campus of the future, to East Boston, where luxury housing is being built along the piers. But who will pay for Harvard's proposal to sink a section of Soldiers Field Road and create a tree-lined promenade along the river?...
The next BRA director will soon see that even the simple stuff can be complicated. Suffolk University recently responded to the mayor's call to build dormitories as a means to ease pressure on the housing market in surrounding neighborhoods. But the Suffolk dorm proposal enflamed Beacon Hill residents instead. The BRA downsized the dorm out of respect, and Suffolk complied. Suddenly the mayor wearied of the whole thing and killed the project.
“She cares about each building and its details in a way that no other planning director has that I can remember, and I go back a long way,” said Jerold S. Kayden, director of the master’s program in urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. “She’s wise enough to recognize that what I would call small details or granular moves can either enhance or destroy a city. In a funny way she’s the curator of a living, breathing city.”
``The theme is one of connection,'' Harvard Provost Steven Hyman said at a news conference in Boston. ``We want to use Allston to take us to new levels of excellence.''
After a Brighton resident complains to the Globe about paved front yard parking lots, a code enforcement officer from Boston's Inspectional Services issued citations to 14 homeowners for violating the city's zoning ordinance. During an evening inspection of the same area on Dec. 14, enforcement officers found more than 100 cars parked in illegally enlarged driveways and parking lots. Some vehicles blocked sidewalks or were unregistered and abandoned. They issued 14 citations to these landlords and fined them $150 a piece. Fines jumped to $300 each for last week's round of tickets because it was the second violation for most in the last 12 months.
Excerpts from Globe story:
"The compatibility issue is really the main problem," said Ray Mellone, chairman of the Allston community task force on the Harvard expansion, referring to fears that traffic and bustle would invade the neighborhood.
The university will also need approval from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which manages the land along the river, and from the state Historical Commission to put Soldier's Field Road underground and for other construction along the Charles River.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who chairs the Historical Commission, said the university's plans to submerge the roadway and build a pedestrian bridge over the Charles appear mainly to benefit the university and not members of the community.
"Clearly, the university is treating the river like some moat that they own," Galvin said. "It is not theirs, and it will be protected."
"We're not presuming we can do all this," said Christopher M. Gordon, chief operating officer for Harvard's Allston Development Group, which is managing the expansion. "We want to make sure we work with everybody."
Thanks to Sophia for mentioning this post about Harvard's expansion plans and the possibilities for expanded public transportation.
Harvard Crimson story excerpts:
“It’s definitely different from the norm,” said Gerald Autler, the project manager for the Boston Redevelopment Authority .
Harvard’s chief planner for Allston, Kathy Spiegelman, said the plans would create a “professional school corridor” by relocating the School of Public Health and the Graduate School of Education nearer the existing Business School site.
Harvard’s relationship with residents of Allston, and Charlesview in particular, remains fraught. Occupants protested the building’s board of directors’ decision to cooperate in a land swap with Harvard last November.
But Spiegelman said Harvard believes “there is no reason we can’t improve the quality of life of people who also share the Allston community.”
“[Allston] could be a much more vibrant area,” Christopher M. Gordon, the head of Harvard’s Allston Development Group said, “not just for Harvard by for the community and region.”
Excerpts from an opinion article by Rachel M. Singh, Harvard ’10, a Crimson editorial editor:
The next president should mend our community image and prioritize student interests
Richard Harding, Jr. of the Cambridge Public School Committee has blamed Harvard for doing little to help local poor and under-performing public schools. “I really need to know what the hell are they doing for us,” he said. Ten years after covertly buying land in Allston, Harvard has yet to publicize how its expansion will affect local residents. Community meetings and donations to build a library are no more than an excellent public relations campaign if the University ends up driving out residents.
We must repair our image in our neighborhood and defy stereotypes about the Harvard bubble and its self-interested policies. The integrity of this institution rests not just on tallying up its Nobel Prize count, but also in the fair treatment of its workers and in its social and environmental responsibility to the community.
Similarly, the president must not weigh Harvard’s global prestige before its responsibility to its community, both in and outside its walls.
Secretary of State William Galvin, who serves as chairman of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, said Harvard’s plans to expand the bridges and bury portions of Storrow Drive could run into trouble.
He noted that the Charles River’s basin is protected and that he’ll closely review Harvard’s plans. He said he’s worried that the plan could “adversely affect” the river.
“I’m very concerned,” said Galvin.
“If they’re treating the river like it’s their moat, I’ve got news for them: They don’t own the river.”
Harvard has unveiled a vision for its future, filing with the City of Boston a proposed Institutional Master Plan for the first stage of the physical evolution of an interdisciplinary campus in Allston.
Click here for the document (12 MB)
The possibility that a 550-person housing project at Charlesview might become a 1000-person housing project on Western Ave will have a huge impact on the future of the neighborhood. Here is what Harvard researchers wrote recently:
Of all the elements that determine a neighborhood’s quality of living, homes are by far the most influential. The types and condition of a neighborhood’s homes – whether houses or apartments, owned or rented – determine whether the residents will live in comfort and safety. The value or change in value of an area’s housing directly influences the financial condition of its occupants by providing more or less expensive shelter and, in the case of homeowners, increasing or decreasing the investment in the home.1
Experts at Harvard and elsewhere agree that we should strive to reduce or eliminate segregation based on race or income. In Boston and across the country, policies are being created to encourage a mix of incomes in housing developments and neighborhoods. Examples include the Federal Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing (MTO) and HOPE VI programs. In this Harvard paper, researchers discuss the favorable results of the MTO program in Boston. Another Harvard paper addresses the complexities of housing policy and makes the case that mixed-income housing is not a "silver bullet".
What is clear is that thousands of new people will move to North Allston & North Brighton in the upcoming years and a new Charlesview development would be the first major housing development here in decades. It could significantly alter the demographics and appearance of the neighborhood. North Harvard Street could become a dividing line, with Harvard people isolating themselves to the east of the neighborhood in new enclaves.
Where the newcomers to our community will live and the type of housing that should be built are not simple questions. But they are very important ones. The housing goals in the North Allston Strategic Framework were a good start. Now we need Harvard, the City, the community, and others to begin serious planning to fulfill these goals before major development moves forward.
Harvard has the expertise to significantly contribute to a world-class housing plan for this community. Harvard claims to be interested in the success of Allston. Harvard says that housing policy is one of the most important factors in the success of a community. It is time for Harvard to follow up its talk about "partnerships" and "shared vision" with real action.
1 The Impact of Housing on Community: A Review of Scholarly Theories and Empirical Research Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University - Alexander von Hoffman, Eric S. Belsky, and Kwan Lee - March 2006
My favorite phrase from his speech is the emphasis on "the places that put life in city life."
It is that sentiment that leaves many of us so troubled when we look at the vacant Harvard-owned buildings in AB North. (Thanks to Tim McHale for creating that new phrase. It is so much easier to say and type than "North Allston and North Brighton"). It is the same lens through which we look at Harvard's new proposals, trying to see how they will put life into Western Ave, not just for Harvard affiliates but for everyone in the community.
I think it is interesting that Harvard's Allston expansion is viewed as so important to Harvard that it may be shaping the selection of Harvard's next president.
"The last thing you want to do is develop one-off projects every couple of
years and not understand the big picture. If you do it that way, you can’t look
at cumulative effects, like traffic, the impact on utilities, etc."
"[The new IMP is] going to talk about the community – we want to work
with the community so there’s not a bright line between the community and the campus."
""Everybody I meet with, from staff members up to the president, has said,
“You know, we’ll only do this once. We’re only going to build the campus once.
Let’s think about this.” People are watching what Harvard does to make sure we
do it right and that’s good."
Pages 1-50 (13MB)
Pages 51-100 (19MB)
Pages 101-125 (26MB)
Pages 126-282 (11MB)
Also, I have printed copies to distribute so you can call me at (617)538-7038 if you would like one.
Harvard Crimson story about Harvard's purchase last month of 176 Lincoln St.
There are also a few people in the neighborhood who have been given copies to distribute to people in the community. I have 10 copies. First come - first served. Give me a call at (617)538-7038 if you'd like one.
- A petition to the Mayor asking him to stop the approval process and require a comprehensive master plan from Suffolk before considering any new building
- A "call to action" flyer explaining how people can get involved
- A sample letter to help people submit feedback to the BRA
- The comment letter submitted by the Beacon Hill Civic Association
Deadline for applications for next year are February 1. Upcoming Family Information Meetings are being held on:
Tuesday, January 9, 2007: English High School, Jamaica Plain, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 20, 2007: Boston College High School, Dorchester: 10:00 a.m.
Kevin G. Honan, D-Boston - N
Michael J. Moran, D-Boston - N
Jarrett T. Barrios, D-Cambridge - N
Steve A. Tolman, D-Boston - N
Excerpt from Boston Globe story suggests power shift in City Council
Since 2002, the presidency -- and consequently powerful committee chairmanships -- lay in the hands of Flaherty and his supporters, a group of white men in their 20s and 30s. Now some of those councilors may have to take a back seat, along with their initiatives, to an emboldened minority caucus. They include Flaherty; Michael Ross of Beacon Hill, Back Bay and Mission Hill; Rob Consalvo of Hyde Park; and Jerry McDermott of Allston-Brighton .
YOU QUOTED Thomas Lentz, director of Harvard University Art Museums, describing my neighborhood as "Western Siberia" ("Harvard: New museum site is a better location, costs less," Style & Arts, Dec. 28).
True, we are a wasteland of Harvard's creation. For decades, using straw companies and individuals, Harvard has snapped up homes and businesses, having left them empty to decay so that their distressed abutters become new opportunities for acquisition. Real people lose their homes and jobs, but the institution prospers, and that's what they teach at the Business School.
My neighbors are not complainers. We desperately need to see Harvard succeed here and want only to be treated with respect and the honesty expected by a person in a Veritas tie.
If Mayor Menino wants a "legacy," as you so often write, he should seek it on the campus of Harvard and the streets of Allston. Far better than another ugly skyscraper with someone else's name, eternal honor will belong to the one who negotiates the success of the new Harvard Square.
Harvard's Museum of Natural History must leap forward from the 19th century. "The university museum has two major functions," said Dr. Steven E. Hyman, the provost of Harvard and a neuroscientist who has helped create exhibits for museums. "One is to support research, and the other is education." Unlike many science museums, Harvard has both a curatorial staff and affiliated researchers who use its collection of millions of zoological specimens.
That collection, founded by naturalist Louis Agassiz in 1859, includes stunning fossils and preserved animals, which help make it Harvard's leading paid attraction. But the cramped quarters leave little room for new science.
A move to Allston would add space but subtract historical significance. "The Museum of Natural History is also a museum of museums," noted Hyman. "It was the first collection to be displayed like that for public consumption."
The new Harvard report suggests that a move would help the museum's educational side, perhaps through a new "Museum of Evolution" combining different elements of the university's collection. "In the Allston era, we'll have an opportunity to invigorate the museum component of the university," said Stubbs.
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