A legacy of neglect - our crumbling infrastructure

The story of crumbling bridges over the Charles is nothing new for people here who use the bridges at Cambridge St, Western Ave, and North Harvard St. This op-ed piece suggests how the state could start making sure projects like this get the maintenance and repairs that they need.
A legacy of neglect - The Boston Globe

Allston artist featured at the DeCordova museum

Sculptor Anne Lilly has an amazing sample of her art at the DeCordova museum in Lincoln. Anne works in the Franklin Street artist studio and these moving sculptures (when you spin the base the 'fingers' travel in a variety of different paths) are quite hypnotic and beautiful. I highly recommend her exhibit and the DeCordova in general.

The 2007 DeCordova Annual Exhibition: Anne Lilly

Meet the candidates at the Hill Memorial Baptist Church

The Hill Memorial Baptist Church (279 North Harvard St, between Coolidge and Easton) is doing a great thing. They are hosting a "meet the candidates" series for the Allston/Brighton City Council candidates. Today at 11 Tim Schofield will be there. The church is not endorsing anyone but is creating this forum for people to meet the candidates and learn about the issues.

Neighborhood activists party this Saturday at the Bus Stop

For planners' party, the Bus Stops here - The Boston Globe

Neighborhood activists and friends are invited to the event, which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Bus Stop Pub, 252 Western Ave. in Allston. RSVP to McHale 617-787-2122 or bostonminstrel@aol.com

Boston Globe profile of new Allston/Brighton Police Captain Genevieve King

Sounds like our new commander is taking a strong stand about the quality of life issues that are important to many of us in the community.

For new commander, the force is with her - The Boston Globe

As far as student misbehavior, King said, she's sending a "loud and clear" message as they arrive this year. "If you have a large party, underage drinkers, you will be arrested for keeping a disorderly house."

Further, King has solicited promises from the universities to take action and notify parents directly if a student is arrested. "It often doesn't bother them if they're arrested," she said. "But if a school says you're on probation -- that makes a huge difference."

Another resident concern King has heard is about traffic, particularly students speeding through residential streets to get to school. Her department is talking with neighborhood groups about changing parking and traffic patterns to force cars to slow down. Dick Hardy, a traffic engineer for the city, has already agreed to do traffic studies after September, she said.

The issue of underage drinking will also be addressed. King and her department are meeting with bar owners in the neighborhood to educate them about fake identification cards.

Paving Allston - the good and the bad

The new sidewalks being poured on Franklin Street are a very nice neighborhood improvement. One area had been a dirt patch maybe an inch lower than the rest of the sidewalk and now it is smooth and safe. My son's tricycle ride to the playground will be much better as a result of this project and of course many other people will enjoy a safer and more pleasant walk. I am amazed that someone would want to do this to the front yard of their home. Think how hard it will be for someone to correct this some day. Planting a bit of groundcover is not hard and would look SO much better. I am also amazed that the City of Boston allows this to be done.

With all the talk about making Boston a "green" city it would be great if the City could prevent needless paving of front, side, and back yards. Rain like we had today should be going into the ground and then the Charles River. Instead so much of it goes into the sewers. To learn more about the problems this causes, visit the Charles River Watershed Assoc website

Quote of the day

The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.
- Henry Kissinger

Harvard Crimson story about the July 25 Task Force meeting

The Harvard Crimson :: News :: Allston Task Force Tackles New Construction Concerns

MIT's free physics/baseball summer camp

MIT's learning curve - The Boston Globe

A nice story about a free camp offered to students from Allston/Brighton and other neighborhoods sponsored by MIT, the Red Sox Foundation, and other organizations to help kids learn math and science. When we are talking about how Harvard could have a larger role in our community this is an example of one of the relatively small things (for an institution with the Harvard's resources) that would seemingly be easy to do.

Save some money - shop on Aug. 11-12

House OK's two-day sales-tax holiday - The Boston Globe

With all the things in this state that need more money (schools, parks, roads, bridges, just to name a few) I don't think the state should be giving up $30 million to $50 million in revenue. But if you want to save 5% on purchases up to $2,500 you can do your shopping on August 11 and 12.

Kick-off reception for John Connolly, Candidate for City Councilor-at-Large

John Connolly, Candidate for City Councilor-at-Large, invites friends from Allston / Brighton to join him for a Kick-off reception at Devlin's, 332 Washington St., Brighton Center. The event is from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Monday July 30.

All are welcome to come and meet John and discuss topics of interest. The event is free but donations of any size would be welcome. Come meet John and hear about his vision for Boston and share your thoughts about your neighborhood and the City.

Street congestion tops concerns about Harvard (this week)

TAB article about last night's Harvard Allston Task Force meeting

Street congestion tops concerns about Harvard (this week) - Brighton, MA - Allston/Brighton TAB

NStar woes unplugged - Letters to the Editor - BostonHerald.com

The Herald published a Letter to the Editor I submitted about the ongoing struggle with NSTAR regarding its Lincoln St substation.

NStar woes unplugged - Letters to the Editor - BostonHerald.com

Departing City Councilor Jerry McDermott may think he won the battle with NStar [NST], but those of who live near the NStar substation know a different reality (“Councilor builds new career, McDermott to head housing charity,” July 21).
Graffiti and litter accumulate on the Lincoln Street side of the substation. At the intersection of Mansfield and Lincoln streets, a vacant lot sits empty and unattractive. The barrier wall to protect abutting homes and other improvements that McDermott demanded from NStar are nowhere in sight.
NStar could be a better neighbor to people who have watched its substation literally explode before our very eyes.

A victory in the battle against graffiti

Graffiti is a continual problem in Allston, Brighton, and across the city, so it is nice to hear this good news about a major victory in the Mission Hill neighborhood. This account of the situation was written by people from the Back Bay who volunteer a considerable amount of their time to keep their neighborhood clean.
On July 11, 2007, in Roxbury Court our friends in Mission Hill set a significant precedent with a felony conviction of Andrew White, tag TEL. White pleaded guilty to Vandalism of Property and received two years of supervised probation and restitution in the amount of $10,000 to be paid to Community Alliance of Mission Hill, representing the neighborhood, and Wentworth College. The restitution is to be completely repaid during the two year period of probation. Since this is a felony conviction, White’s driver’s license will also be revoked and if he should violate his probation or fail to pay restitution he will be facing time in jail.

This is the first felony conviction we have seen and were it not for the perseverance and presence of the neighbors in Mission Hill this would not have been possible. Bob Francey in particular was instrumental in putting together over 100 photographs showing how pervasive and invasive White was in his tagging and coordinating with Wentworth and Harvard to bring their evidence to the trial. As we have seen before in previous trials, White’s being sentenced this day was without much notice, as he only agreed to plead guilty to the recommended sentence late the night before. Fortunately several members of the community were there, and this was crucial as the judge who decided the case had heard one of the earlier pre-trial hearings and remembered the faces in the audience and the photographs he had viewed. Anne and I have been attending these hearings because we have also seen White's tags throughout the Back Bay neighborhood, as well as in Beacon Hill, Fenway and South End. Although White has not had any previous convictions and has a clean record prior to this, and his attorney argued brilliantly as to the harshness of the penalties, the judge agreed with the recommended sentence and gave the penalties requested by the assistant district attorney. One of the main reasons that White agreed to plead guilty was that the neighborhood and assistant district attorney would have brought both a criminal and civil suit for more than 200 incidences of vandalism otherwise. Since White has admitted to his tag being “TEL” he could be held accountable for all graffiti with his tag.

It is wonderful to see this result that we have been working so hard towards. White is a particularly prolific tagger and we hope that this severe penalty will send yet another pointed message to the tagging community that Boston will not tolerate this expensive vandalism anymore.

Ooops! Harvard's proposed construction access is much closer to the neighborhood

On page 4-114 of the Science Complex DPIR, a drawing shows a possible route for truck access to the Science Complex site. The drawing is wrong! This is not really what Harvard is proposing. The purple line in the drawing shows the access staying north of the Sears building foundation and staying a safe distance from the nearest homes.
What Harvard's Impact Report shows
What Harvard is REALLY proposing

It may seem like a short distance, but hundreds of trucks a day will use this haul road, and bringing it so much closer to the homes on Windom and Hopedale will not be good for the people who live there.

Fortunately, there are alternatives that seem feasible and would be much less disruptive to people in the neighborhood.

A look at the DCR

Sam Allis write about the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the state organization responsible for many of the roads and parks that are so important to our quality of life in Allston & Brighton (Chestnut Hill Reservation, Charles River - Herter Park and Artesani Playground, swimming pools on Chesnut Hill Ave & North Beacon St, Daly Field, Soldiers Field Road, etc.)

Broke and broken - The Boston Globe

Charles River bridge closed tonight?

The Cambridge police and State Police I called don't know anything about this. I called them because the Globe's description does not make sense - there is no bridge that connect JFK Street and Western Ave.

In any case, if you are driving between Cambridge and Allston this evening you might want to be on the lookout. My guess is it is the Anderson Memorial Bridge, the one that connects North Harvard St & JFK St.

Memorial Bridge closed tonight - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe
Memorial Bridge in Cambridge will be closed between 7 and 9 tonight for the filming of a movie, State Police said this afternoon. The bridge will be shut down in both directions between JFK Street and Western Avenue. Motorists should seek other routes because traffic is expected to be heavy, police said.

CORRECTION - City Council Forum tonight

The previous post had the wrong times for this event. The correct info is:
Place: Oak Square Y
Meet the Candidates: 6:30-7:00 PM
Candidates Forum: 7:00-8:30 PM

New boathouse for Community Rowing under construction in Brighton

Community Rowing Inc. has broken ground on a $15 million project to build a new boathouse along the Charles River near Daly Rink. This great organization in its new home (scheduled to open in spring 2008) will be able to make rowing accessible for many people, regardless of age, wealth, physical disability, or other barriers to the sport of rowing.

Project to bring rowing to public - The Boston Globe

Paul Nowicki, State Senate candidate

I got a letter today from Paul Nowicki, a Chelsea City Councilor, who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Jarrett Barrios. This crazy shaped district includes some or all of Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, Revere, Sagus, and the northern part of Allston. The letter mentions www.paulnowicki.com but there is no such website, at least not yet. You can instead try Paul on the phone if you want more information about his campaign - 617-595-7927.

Letter: All voices must be heard

Alex is writing about Chapter 9 "Response to Comments" of the Havard Science Complex Draft Project Impact Report (the 4MB file can be downloaded here). In many situations, Harvard's "response" isn't really a direct reply to the comments and questions posed by members of the community. But even worse is that the last 13 letters don't get any response at all.

Letter: All voices must be heard - Brighton, MA - Allston/Brighton TAB

Harvard’s Draft Project Impact Report (600 or more pages, 8 pounds, 3 inches tall) addresses aspects of their Allston plan quite exhaustively. Fully 111 pages of it responds in minute detail to the questions and concerns of each citizen or citizens group. However, anyone writing in Spanish, from the Charlesview complex, writing by hand or on lined paper, can expect their comments to be put at the end of the report. The letters placed in this section will not be translated, nor will the concerns expressed so courageously be addressed.
They deserve to be heard and not egregiously ignored.
Alex Selvig
Candidate for Boston City Council

Local struggle with NSTAR continues

It is amazing to see our City Councilor claim that he "won" a battle with NStar to improve the substation on Lincoln St in Allston. This substation has been the site of numerous explosions and other problems in the last several years. NStar is in the process of replacing old equipment and they put a new fence along the Lincoln St side of the substation.

But all this is much less than what McDermott and other elected officials demanded several years ago. A vacant and neglected lot sits at the intersection of Mansfield and Lincoln Streets. The safety/visual barrier wall between the substation and abutting homes remains unbuilt. So for those of us who still live here, the "battle" still continues.

Councilor builds new career: McDermott to head housing charity - Local Politics - BostonHerald.com
"McDermott said he’s most proud of his measures that reduced speeds around
playgrounds from 30 mph to 20 mph, and a battle with NStar that he won,
convincing the utility provider to spend $4.7 million to fix an electric
substation in Allston."

Cleaned-up Charles can host swimmers

For some good news, The Charles River Swimming Club is hosting its first swimming race on the Charles this morning. This one-mile race is being held near the Esplanade, not the Allston/Brighton part of the river, but it is a great sign all of the Charles is getting cleaner and more usable.

Cleaned-up Charles can host swimmers - The Boston Globe

McDermott moving out of Boston, may resign early from Council

Up here in North Allston we already don't have a State Senator (Jarrett Barrios) and now we won't have a district City Councilor (McDermott).

McDermott plans to move out of Boston - The Boston Globe

Councilor Jerry McDermott, a lifelong Brighton resident, plans to move to the suburb of Westwood with his wife and two young children this fall when he resigns from his seat.

McDermott will become executive director of the South Shore Habitat for Humanity in Braintree on Sept. 4. The new job, he said, will probably cause him to quit the City Council earlier than anticipated, perhaps as early as September, rather than Dec. 31.

City Hall adding oversight to Harvard's expansion

BRA approves Glavin for deputy director post - The Boston Globe
The Boston Redevelopment Authority board of directors approved the appointment of Michael F. Glavin as deputy director for institutional development of the city's planning and development agency. Glavin, formerly a manager of community investment programs at Bank of America and its Boston-based predecessors including BankBoston, will lead a team that oversees Harvard University's significant expansion into Allston, among other projects.

Read the complete press release on the BRA website

Allston-Brighton City Council candidate Tim Schofield responds to the allston02134 City Council questionnaire

Tim is the 4th candidate to respond to this questionnaire. You can learn more about Tim at http://schofieldforcitycouncil.com/.

1) Do you support the creation of a Boston Planning Department?
Yes, I support the creation of a separate Boston Planning Department. I also support other specific reforms to the current BRA procedures including a requirement that institutions submit detailed plans to the community at mandatory public meetings, and specifically respond to community concerns, prior to filing any plans with the BRA. As it currently stands (and as the institutions frequently remind us), the meetings being held are not mandatory and there is no requirement that the institutions present interim plans which respond to community concerns. I have personally sat through meeting after meeting where the same plans were presented and the same concerns expressed time and time again, to no avail. Similarly, I would extend the time periods for the community to review and respond to plans that are filed with the BRA. As we are seeing right now with Harvard’s recent filing, the time which the community has to review and respond to the BRA filings are wholly inadequate, especially when dealing with the large and complex projects being proposed by the institutions.

2) Should height limits in the North Allston Strategic Framework be strictly applied to Harvard's proposed buildings?
Many members of the community volunteered countless hours of their time to develop the North Allston Strategic Framework (NASF) and their work and work product should be respected. The Framework must be applied to protect the residents and the residential character of North Allston and North Brighton by preventing Harvard and any other developers from constructing towering buildings abutting residential neighborhoods.

3) Should City Council approval be required before a university can purchase property in Boston?
The Institutional Master Plan (IMP) process is an opportunity for the community to obtain specific concessions and benefits from the institution seeking IMP approval, one of which could be a requirement that the institution seek approval prior to purchasing any property within the community. An ordinance requiring City Council approval for the purchase of property is likely unconstitutional, but an institution (like any other person) can agree to such a requirement and we should work to obtain such agreements as part of the IMP process. As an attorney, I have extensive experience negotiating concession and settlement agreements.

4) What are your thoughts about a possible Charlesview relocation?
Many of the buildings and units at Charlesview require significant work to bring them up to current standards for safety and comfort. Relocating the complex and constructing new units is one way to address these issues. Any such relocation must, however, be done in cooperation with the residents of Charlesview and the abutters of any new complex. The current plan being considered is far too large for the proposed location at Brighton Mills and does not adequately take into consideration the needs of all the interested parties.

5) What should be the future of the Speedway property on Western Ave?
Ideally, the Speedway property will be restored and preserved. Fortunately, the property is currently owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation so any sale or long-term lease would have to be approved by the legislature (in other words, nobody can purchase the property without us knowing about it beforehand). I would work with our state legislators to ensure that the community has full input into any proposed sale or development of the property prior to any such approval. The property is the gateway to our community and so we must, as a community, carefully weigh how we want to property to be used.

6) How do you feel about the vacant Harvard-owned properties in North Allston and North Brighton?
I think it is wrong and unfortunate that Harvard has permitted these properties to remain vacant and, frequently, in a state of disrepair while there is a great need for retail services in the community. If Harvard does not intend to utilize the properties for educational purposes in the foreseeable future, then it should lease the properties to businesses who will utilize them for the benefit of the community. I am also greatly concerned by the number of jobs that have been lost as a result of these actions. Many of the businesses that were along Western Avenue employed people who lived in the neighborhood. Whether it was Pepsi, the telephone company, the car dealerships, or video stores, these businesses provided job opportunities for workers who lived in Allston and Brighton. Harvard’s proposed development will not bring these types of permanent jobs back to the community. Harvard must ensure that there is a mix of retail and commercial uses now and in the future so that there are good jobs available to people in the neighborhood and basic retail services within walking distance of the residential community.

City Council candidate Mark Ciommo shares thoughts about Harvard's expansion

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.
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

Keeping the noise down

This is a great publication by the Federal Highway Administration about noise barriers and reducing highway noise for nearby homes. The concepts are also applicable to reducing the noise that will be created by Harvard's upcoming construction. - http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/keepdown.pdf

Some similar information is at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/htnoise.htm

What are noise barriers?
Noise barriers do not completely block all noise - they only reduce overall noise levels. Effective noise barriers typically reduce noise levels by 5 to 10 decibels (dB), cutting the loudness of traffic noise by as much as one half. For example, a barrier which achieves a 10-dB reduction can reduce the sound level of a typical tractor trailer pass-by to that of an automobile.

How Does a Noise Barrier Work?
A noise barrier must be tall enough and long enough to block the view of a highway from the area that is to be protected, the“receiver.” Noise barriers provide very little benefit for homes on a hillside overlooking a highway or for buildings which rise above the barrier.

Therefore, a barrier that is effective for someone standing on the ground might do nothing to block sound from someone at the 2nd or 3rd floor of a home where you would have a clear view over the barrier wall to the source of the noise.

To effectively reduce the noise coming around its ends, a barrier should be at least eight times as long as the distance from the home to the barrier.

Can Trees Be Planted to Act as Noise Barriers?
Vegetation, if it is high enough, wide enough, and dense enough that it cannot be seen over or through, can decrease highway traffic noise. A wide strip of trees with very thick undergrowth can lower noise levels. 30 meters (100 feet) of dense vegetation can reduce noise by five decibels.

However, it is not feasible to plant enough trees and other vegetation along a highway to achieve such a reduction. Trees and other vegetation can be planted for psychological relief but not to physically lessen noise levels.

WalkBoston review of Harvard Science Complex proposal

WalkBoston is starting to put together comments on Harvard's Proposed Allston Science Complex. They are holding a review session on Tuesday, July 31st, 5-6:30 PM. For more information contact Wendy Landman at wlandman@walkboston.org.

Hidy-ho, neighbor! Harvard + Allston

Some architects at www.archinect.com are discussing Harvard's plans for Allston

Archinect : School Blog Project : Harvard University - GSD (Quilian) : Hidy-ho, neighbor! Harvard + Allston

Harvard, the behemoth with many heads, is moving to Allston, that much seems to be clear. As to how and when it does it, who moves there, what type of community it creates, and its relationship to its neighbors, no one seems to be quite sure. Will Harvard be a literal ivory tower separated from its surroundings, or will they follow a more friendly and open approach? Will the question be dodged by just moving the river, as a GSD professor proposed?

It is that last part, the relationship to its neighbors, that a group of very active Allston residents are trying to influence. They are helping Harvard keep in mind that their actions have real and sometimes unexpected consequences on a community. Harvard owns large plots of land, if it is not careful the community around can die. One can only understand if the local community is a bit wary, as Harvard's first steps have not been very successful. The Business school is a virtual minimum security prison, I am not even sure how one goes about getting in there...

July 24 zoning and licensing hearings

30R Undine Road - Confirm the legal occupancy as a shelter for cats and erect a rear addition to the building.

256 Lincoln Street - Convert vacant lot into additional parking area for 250 Lincoln Street.

15 Ransom Road - Create off-street parking for six vehicles.

60 Woodstock Avenue - Create off-street parking for ten vehicles.

75-87 Harvard Avenue - Change the legal occupancy from music instruction, rehearsal
and sales, a store, a restaurant and hair salon to music instruction, rehearsal, and sales, a store, a restaurant to include a money exchange office at #75 Harvard Avenue.

If you wish to express an opinion in regards to the above proposal either in favor or in opposition, write to:
Board of Appeal
1010 Massachusetts Avenue, 4th floor
Boston, MA 02118
You can call the Board of Appeal at 617-635-4775 with questions.

Boston College launches its IMP web site

Boston College IMP - Home

Northeastern's new president sets and example that others could follow

Northeastern tries a lighter tread - The Boston Globe

Soon after he became president of Northeastern University last August, Joseph Aoun made a symbolic, fence-mending gesture to the university's Lower Roxbury neighbors. He moved his office across campus to Columbus Avenue, just over the Roxbury line, changing the office's ZIP code.

Aoun didn't stop there. He has been personally courting clergy and neighborhood leaders and gone door to door to talk with residents to warm an often chilly relationship between the city campus and its neighbors.

"You cannot put students in a tower for four years and expect them to be engaged citizens," Aoun said last week at Peoples Baptist Church on Tremont Street. "It cannot work this way."

Northeastern's effort and Aoun's personal investment have won praise from many city leaders and neighbors, who say it marks a sharp break with the past.

"They're being a little more pleasant," said Adline Stallings, cochairwoman of the Mission Main Task Force, a community group. "They haven't always been a good neighbor. They would push, not ask. But now they are listening a little bit."

The Globe publishes THREE(!) letters to the Editor about Harvard's broken promises

Harvard's broken promise in Allston - The Boston Globe

MY KIDS ride their bikes on this broken, treeless sidewalk and others in Allston-Brighton. It is hot, ugly, and dangerous. Maybe Harvard University doesn't owe me anything, but the city of Boston does. If Harvard promised the city it would fix this, the city needs to ensure that it does.

SONIA SHAH, Brighton

THE STATUS of Harvard's 1997 improvement plan does seem like a harbinger of things to come. I've seen a lot of beautiful drawings and ideas that sound fine on paper, but Harvard's apparent disinterest in its neighbors comes through in its actions -- or lack thereof.

Compared to its long-range plans for the area, improvements such as repairing a sidewalk and replacing a rusty fence are probably less than exciting . But a decrepit stretch of road does have an effect on a community, and Harvard's distraction from this fact seems like just another example of its cavalier attitude toward the neighborhood it is supposedly trying to curry favor with.

That the country's premier institution of higher education needs to "take a much closer look" at the possibility of not flagrantly ignoring its neighbors says everything about this whole affair.


HARVARD UNIVERSITY'S failure to follow through on long-promised street improvements in North Allston is yet another example not only of Harvard's broken promises but of the Boston Redevelopment Authority's failure to enforce agreements made in the master planning process ("A street of broken vows runs in Allston," City & Region, July 12).

Allston-Brighton is currently besieged by massive new expansion proposals by Harvard to the north and Boston College to the south.

Every month at neighborhood meetings we hear BRA officials claim how the master plans will be enforced, whether it be lighting hours or dormitory use. Harvard's failure to improve North Harvard Street, however, demonstrates the hollowness of the BRA's words.

Harvard should agree to a hiatus on BRA approval of their new projects until they satisfactorily resolve past promises. Only then will they live up to their school motto: Veritas.


City Councilor Candidates Forum next Monday (July 23)

Location: Brighton YMCA, 615 Washington Street
Moderator: Senator Steven A. Tolman

Meet the Candidates: 6:30-7:00 PM
Candidates Forum: 7:00-8:30 PM

Mark Ciommo - Greg Glennon - Rosie Hanlon - James Jenner - Tim Schofield - Alex Selvig

Refreshments will be served
Limited parking available
Voter registration at the event

Affordable Allston condos for sale

Lottery set for low-cost Glenville condos - The Boston Globe

Next month, Allston Brighton CDC will open applications for people who meet income limits and want to purchase one of 33 units at 48-52 Glenville Ave. Anyone with income of 80 percent or less of the median income for Greater Boston would qualify. For a single-person household, the income limit would be $46,300. Information sessions will be held July 24 in English (Spanish translation available) and July 28 in Spanish. For details or to register, call the development corporation at 617-787-3874, ext. 35.

More about undelivered community benefits

It looks like the problem we have on North Harvard St with Harvard's promises may be part of a more general issue across the city.

Undelivered Promises? (SAMPAN, Nov 3, 2006) - New England 's only Chinese-English News
Four years after the City of Boston approved the development of a
controversial apartment tower in Chinatown, most of the promised benefits of the
project have yet to be delivered...

Quality of life during Harvard construction

The Task Force meeting on Monday (6:30 @ Honan Library) will include transportation and construction issues, so this is a good time to look at the DPIR and the promises that Harvard makes so that people whose homes are close to the construction site will be affected as little as possible.

The Task Force wrote in its comment letter for this project:
Construction mitigation measures, which will likely be of relevance for years to come, should include at a minimum attractive sound-barriers covered with greenery, sound-proof windows for abutters affected by construction-related noise, and a comprehensive plan for maintaining safety and traffic access to local streets for pedestrians, residents, drivers, and cyclists, including measures to reduce cutthrough traffic.
Harvard's response in the DPIR was:
The Proponent and the Construction Manager will work together to ensure impacts to the neighborhood are kept at a minimum. A Construction Impact Management Plan (Section 4.11) will be put in place and enforced. Appropriate signage, police details, and secure fencing will also be included. Please see Section 4.11.4 for further information.
In Section 4.11 I don't see anything about sound-proof windows, design details about a barrier wall to surround the site, or strategies to reduce cut-through traffic that could be caused by the construction. I also don't see much recognition by Harvard that this is not just one construction project that is about to start, but decades of construction that will unavoidably disrupt this neighborhood regardless of how many bulletin boards Harvard puts up.

An interesting comparison is with Massport, the operator of Logan Airport and the former employer of Chris Gordon, Harvard's chief of Allston development.

While Massport cannot eliminate noise at its source, it can neutralize its effects through one of the most extensive soundproofing programs in the country. Massport's Residential Sound Insulation Program to date has soundproofed 9,088 dwelling units, including 4,507 homes, and 36 schools. Since the program began, Massport has spent $140 million to soundproof dwellings and schools.

Harvard Crimson story about Monday's Task Force meeting

The Harvard Crimson :: News :: Allston Residents To Review Project Impact Report

A benchmark for Harvard's community benefits

Today's Globe reviews the status of the Columbus Circle project which is planned to be built downtown over the Mass Pike. The total cost of the project is estimated at $800 million, which may be somewhat more than Harvard's Science Complex but is probably not that much more.

The developers calculate that they will contribute a total of about $53 million in public benefits and construction mitigation measures, including three parks and future park maintenance, 45 affordable housing units on site, 20 or so affordable units off site, recharging of groundwater wells in the area, and subsidies to future occupants including a day-care center and grocery store.

$10m more sought for Columbus Center - The Boston Globe

Harvard and its promises

It is ironic that in this article from last month's Harvard Crimson, Chris Gordon, Harvard's chief of Allston Development, mentions keeping promises to the Allston neighborhood.

The Harvard Crimson :: Opinion :: The Promises of Harvard’s Growth in Allston

Because in this story in today's Globe we learn about more promises that Harvard has made that it has completely failed to honor.

A street of broken vows runs in Allston - The Boston Globe

New Harvard Medical School dean to focus on Allston planning

It's official: Flier is new Harvard medical dean - Boston.com
He said that his areas of focus will include implementing Harvard Medical School's new curriculum, which pushes students to better understand patients' experiences in the health care system; helping plan the university's new Allston campus and the future of science at Harvard; and increasing collaboration among researchers across the system, particularly in the area of translating basic research into treatments for patients.

Faust Chooses Veteran Professor To Lead Medical School - The Harvard Crimson
In an interview Wednesday, Flier said that his top priority as dean is to continue to oversee the implementation of the Medical School’s new curriculum, which was drafted under Martin. Flier also said that he will make many decisions on the Allston expansion and the future of biological research, and that he would like to “accelerate the integration of fundamental science and social science” with medicine.

Harvard Task Force meeting schedule

The tentative schedule for Task Force meetings to review the Draft Project Impact Report for the Science Complex is as follows. Meetings will likely be at the Honan-Allston Library, but that is in the process of being confirmed.
July 16: Transportation and Construction Impacts
July 25: Project Description and Environmental Protection
July 30: Sustainability/Urban Design
August 6: Historic Resources/Infrastructure
August 13: Tentative; agenda to be determined
August 22: Agenda to be determined
September 10: Agenda to be determined

TAB article about Monday's Harvard Task Force meeting

Harvard plans to be discussed more often - Brighton, MA - Allston/Brighton TAB

Harvard Kills Plants

Harvard talks a lot about creating a sustainable campus in Allston. That seems to include planting many new plants. New plants are great, but planting new plants that are never watered and quickly die is not how to make a sustainable campus or be a good neighbor.

Here are photos from last month and earlier this week showing how Harvard's new plants quickly go from green to dead.

A rough start for Harvard's construction mitigation program

There is a lot to say about how Harvard is starting preparations for construction on Western Ave. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of good news to report.
Harvard says they will do a great job informing the community about the construction-related activity. They put up the notice boards that they promised but then they put chain link fencing between the boards and the sidewalk and most of what is on the notices can't be read. I'm sure they will fix this, but it seems like the sort of "rookie mistake" that is surprising to see from a developer with so much construction experience. Luckily I had a zoom lens on my camera so I could read the small print on the notice. But isn't this notice supposed to tell us what is going to happen instead of what has already happened? Today was Tuesday July 10 and this notice is for last week, the week of July 2.

At-large City Councilor Sam Yoon responds to the allston02134 candidate survey

1) Do you support the creation of a Boston Planning Department?
Yes__x__ No_____

I support the creation of a planning department separate from the BRA for several reasons. First, I believe there is an inherit conflict of interest when developers provide funding to the City’s planning department. Second, I believe that the creation of a separate planning department will facilitate more community input into the City’s planning process. Third, I support any attempt to bring more transparency and accountability to the development decisions made in our city.

Serious BRA reform is hard and will take collaboration between all members of the Council. In the meantime, I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that tax dollars are not wasted and that neighborhoods will not be negatively impacted by hasty decisions made without your input.

2) Should height limits in the North Allston Strategic Framework be strictly applied to Harvard’s proposed buildings?
Yes____ No_____

I am encouraged by the development of the Framework because it facilitates discussion between the developers and the community. As somebody who has worked for a community development corporation (CDC), I understand how difficult it is at times to get developers and members of the neighborhood to agree - something the Framework seems to do. My only concern when applying the framework strictly is that it could drive a wedge between the community and developers just as we begin to build consensus about what the neighborhood should look like.

Because of my prior experience at a CDC I also realize that community planning is an evolving process and it may be difficult at times to follow every guideline. Responsible development should not be seen as our enemy; however we must work against irresponsible development in our city. We must make sure that developers work with the residents of our neighborhoods to find common ground. As your City Councilor, I will be on call to ensure the community has a voice that is listened to.

3) Should City Council approval be required before a university can purchase property in Boston?
Yes_____ No__X__

Institutional expansion is a problem in many neighborhoods of Boston. Within the neighborhoods of Allston and Brighton, there is Harvard University, Boston College and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. These institutions are creeping into what are historically residential areas. Although the growth of these institutions can be a benefit, we shouldn’t allow expansion at the expense of those who live in the community.

City Council approval is currently required for designating city-owned property as “surplus” (no longer useful in service to the city), which is a necessary step before it is sold to a private or other public interest. Requiring City Council approval for real estate transactions between two private parties goes beyond the appropriate role of the City Council as a legislative, policymaking body. Regulating and permitting private transactions should be done by the executive branch of government.

However, as a City Councilor, I will work with my colleagues at the state level to make sure that institutions comply with not only the guidelines regarding community process that other private developers follow but that they receive even more scrutiny because of the enormous impact they can have on neighborhoods by virtue of their size and longevity.

4) What are your thoughts about a possible Charlesview relocation?

Currently the units at Charlesview need massive overhaul. They were modern units when they were built, but that was over three decades ago. Although I am excited about the talk of possible renovation, I am alarmed at the apparent lack of public consensus obtained regarding the movement of the complex. If a suitable new location is found, the relocation could be extremely beneficial to the residents of Charlesview.

I urge Harvard University, the BRA and community members to work together to find a location that is agreeable to all parties, including those who live in the complex. I will work with my colleagues in government, including the district councilor for Allston and Brighton, to ensure the community and current Charlesview tenants are given a strong voice in any new relocation decisions.

5) What should be the future of the Speedway property on Western Ave?

The Speedway property has the potential to be a tremendous benefit to the community. However, it is too early to make predictions and requests about the prospective use of this property. There are several steps that need to be completed before a development can even be conceived.

Legislation must be filed in order to sell the land. A new location for existing facilities on the property must be found. Most importantly, an extensive public process must be conducted to decide how this land can be best utilized by the neighborhood.

I hope to see some development of multi-use affordable housing included however the community’s interests are paramount. This property has great potential for a development that would benefit the community and ultimately I hope that such a project will be completed.

6) How do you feel about the vacant Harvard-owned properties in North Allston and North Brighton?

First of all, before Harvard continues to encroach on our neighborhoods, I believe it must begin a development process around the land it currently has. Harvard and other institutions are buying property all over the city before developing what they already own.

Harvard can have a tremendous impact on our communities; the question that remains is whether it will be positive or negative. I am hopeful that Harvard takes the time to consult with the community, and I am willing to help make sure that these conversations happen. However, a community process of this extent takes time. Currently, the vacant properties may be an eyesore; however, with the proper community process, new developments can be built that will enhance the community at large.

State Senate race to replace Barrios begins

Please join seven-term City Councillor and former Mayor of Cambridge Anthony D. Galluccio

For the official announcement of his candidacy for State Senate
July 11, 2007
6:00 p.m. -10 p.m.
Silver Fox Restaurant
2031 Revere Beach Parkway (Route 16), Everett, MA

For more info please call 617-492-3366 or email: anthony@galluccio.org

St. Anthony’s school gets new tenant

St. Anthony’s school gets new tenant - Brighton, MA - Allston/Brighton TAB

The St. Anthony’s School building in Allston has a new tenant, and it’s one that will preserve the building as a community space for Allston residents.
The German International School, formerly located in Cambridge, signed an agreement with the Archdiocese of Boston in June for a five-year lease, with the possibility of a three-year extension.
The German school will pay close to $240,000 a year, according to von Stackelberg, and maintain primary use of the Holton Street building. Community events will have to be scheduled to avoid conflicts, but school officials have agreed to “a reasonable amount of time” that the community can use the building, said Glynn.

Looking at Harvard's Science Complex

During the past several months, questions have been asked about the physical appearance of the proposed Science Complex. One of the better ways to understand the buildings and their relationship to the existing neighborhood is with a physical three-dimensional model.

One of the models that Harvard brought to a community meeting is shown below and in this document.
This model shows details of the facades but it lacks any context to show how these proposed buildings relate to Charlesview and the residential neighborhoods to the south and west. The model also has an unrealistic ghost-like appearance because it is entirely white.

So it is great that page 10 of Appendix B of the Science Complex DPIR has a photo showing the Science Complex and some of the adjacent neighborhoods. We can finally see the difference in height and size between the homes on Hopedale St, the Charlesview apartments, and Harvard's proposed buildings.
To further clarify its proposal, Harvard could add more detail to this model to show exterior windows, smokestacks and other key features. A coat of paint matching the beige color of the building would make it more realistic. And the model should be installed at the Honan library for the duration of the comment period to give more Allston and Brighton residents a chance to view and understand it.

Everyone seems to agree that we don't want this project to be another One Western Ave. So the more everyone understands the buildings before they are built the happier everyone is likely to be after they are built.

Physical Environment and Physical Activity Survey

You can click here to take a survey being conducted by Tamara Daly. This story in today's Globe tells more about her project to learn more about our access to and attitude towards local parks, pools, and other places to exercise.

It only takes a few minutes to take the survey, so please click here.

New Suffolk dorm plan advances

Suffolk dorm plan advances as neighbors drop opposition - The Boston Globe

University expansion is moving ahead in downtown Boston. Previously, Suffolk had planned on building this dormitory at 20 Somerset St on Beacon Hill. The residents of Beacon Hill opposed the project, the Mayor sided with these residents, and Suffolk withdrew that proposal. At this new location on 10 West St Suffolk's proposal seems to have the support needed to be approved by the City.

Allston-Brighton City Council candidate Alex Selvig responds to the allston02134 City Council questionnaire

Alex is the third candidate to represent Allston and Brighton in the City Council who has responded to this questionaire. You can learn more about Alex at http://www.alexselvig.com/

1) Do you support the creation of a Boston Planning Department?

Yes_X_ No_____

At the debate with Tim Schofield and James Jenner, I was able to describe in some detail and express strong support for the creation of a City Planning Dept. I continue to support it.

The planning of the city MUST be separated from the promoting of development. The BRA, an enormously powerful and unaccountable entity, cannot be responsible for both. It is an unacceptable conflict of interest, and too many of us see the disastrous results right outside of our windows.

The proposal would require a City Planning Dept. to be responsible for their actions to the City Council and the citizens: a refreshingly equitable and democratic concept.

2) Should height limits in the North Allston Strategic Framework be strictly applied to Harvard's proposed buildings?

Yes_X_ No_____

The community and city agencies worked very hard to draw up the NASF.It is appropriate for the neighborhood, enjoys wide support, and should be respected. Any exception, such as Harvard's present plan for the 150' tall Science 1 building, provides a toehold for more of their (and anyone else's) projects to exceed the framework's provisions.

Was the NASF created and supported by the City and neighborhood only to be ignored by Harvard? Rules are rules, but let's not forget that the BRA gets to make up their own.

3) Should City Council approval be required before a university can purchase property in Boston?

Yes____ Maybe_X__ No_____

Massive and continual real estate purchases by tax-exempt institutions shifts the burden of paying for city services to fewer and fewer taxpayers: you and me. This cannot continue unchecked in our neighborhood, as we are losing residents due to high taxes, quality of life issues, and other factors associated with expansion. Should Allston-Brighton become a swathe of conjoined college campuses and rental properties, with no long-term residents or children living here?

A zoning plan must be created for the city, with strong emphasis placed on protecting highly impacted neighborhoods such as ours. We simply cannot allow more families and long term residents to be driven from their homes, and for our wonderful community to disappear.

The universities bring prosperity to a large region around Boston. We of Allston-Brighton have dutifully shouldered more than our fair share of the burden for it. Enough is enough.

4) What are your thoughts about a possible Charlesview relocation?

Many of the CV residents shared their opinions with me. Some are excited about the prospect of new, bright housing,others are outraged that they are being displaced. Abutters of the new site have expressed concern over the construction involved and more intense use of the area.

Instead of offering MY thoughts, it would be better to listen to our neighbors, support their decisions, and make sure we reach a fair and reasonable solution.

Will everyone be happy? No. But the decision will better reflect what our neighbors who live, raise children, and make a home in Charlesview want. They know best.

5) What should be the future of the Speedway property on Western Ave?

It should be restored and preserved. Let's not leave the future of this historic property in the hands of developers or well-intentioned bureaucrats. Let’s dream about what this building could be for our community. As one of A- B's landmarks, could it be brought back to life as a multi-use building for the community?

Could it host farmer's and/or flea markets, a community building materials and loaner tool cooperative (park cleanups, anyone?), an events center for concerts, puppet shows? The restoration and programming for the building could be undertaken by our community, for our community, and even create local jobs.

Of particular interest to me would be the melding of an old building with environmentally responsible, carbon-negative technologies. As an example, much of the roof faces south, making it perfect for solar panels. Can we reuse the grey water? Our finished project would be a shining example for the rest of the city to follow.

I'd be happy to volunteer my limited skills and well-stocked toolbox for a community restoration mobilization. I know a thing or two about breathing new life into tired old buildings.

6) How do you feel about the vacant Harvard-owned properties in North Allston and North Brighton?

Empty, abandoned buildings are ugly, and have a negative impact on the neighboring properties. It’s high time that Harvard addressed this issue.

The properties should be landscaped, maintained, and kept up to standards we all know to be acceptable. Harvard could show some goodwill towards the neighborhood by allowing temporary use of the buildings by startup community groups and/or businesses.

We make our homes, raise our children, and grow old here. During the next election cycle it is a critical that we all stand up for what is right, or watch what's left of the community we love wither away.

We must send a message to those who think they can push us around: that Allston- Brighton fights back.

Three years of Harvard negotiations in Roslindale produce results for residents

Open-space activists back facility near arboretum - The Boston Globe

At its final public meeting last week, Harvard officials promised residents not to build more than 185,000 square feet for the next 875 years. That is when the lease for the Arnold Arboretum's 265 acres will end.

"Yes, Harvard got their building, but the community got the protection that they were told three years ago would never happen," said Rob Consalvo, the city councilor who worked closely with residents and the mayor's office on the land deal.

Will there be public access to the Harvard Science Complex?

Harvard claims that "43,950 square feet of the building programming will be accessible to the general public." According to Harvard, the components of the 43,950 are:
Daycare 11,250
Auditorium 10,100
Cafeteria 9,400
Atrium 6,800
Retail 6,400
Each one of these needs to be analyzed to consider how public it really might be.

Harvard proposes 11,250 sq ft of space for daycare with "10-15% of the spaces will be available for the community." Therefore, at most 1,688 sq ft (15%) is "public" space. The other 9,563 sq ft are private.

"Harvard will consider allowing the community to utilize the auditorium for special events."
This is far from a commitment that Harvard will let the public use the auditorium. Other important details (if there will be a fee, at what time of day it might be available, what is a "special" event, etc.) are unknown. In any case, this is not space that the general public will use on a regular basis. A typical Allston or Brighton resident might step foot in the auditorium once or twice a year at most.

Harvard tells us almost nothing about the cafeteria. If good food is served, the space is inviting to the public, it is visible from Western Ave, and it is open from morning to evening it could be a great place that could benefit both the Harvard and Allston/Brighton communities.

The atrium "acts as a public pathway, serving as a public gateway to the other buildings." I guess it will be open to the public, but it seems to be 6,800 sq ft of space with, at best, minimal utility.

Retail space in this building could be a great asset. The stores could be convenient to all regardless of any Harvard affiliation. However, Harvard isn't telling us much of anything about how this space might work. (See page 2-26 for a discussion of Harvard's "ongoing evaluation".)

So less than half of the "public" space described by Harvard has much of any public value. Some people might say that Harvard has no obligation to have any public space in these buildings. My concern is more about morality than obligation. If Harvard wants to build private buildings with minimal public access then they should come out and tell us that. Our community does not have much of a partnership with Harvard if they tell us again and again how many great public uses there will be when there are actually very few.

It is strange that Harvard-sponsored proposals for public uses have vanished. In March 2006, Harvard hired the urban design firm Project for Public Spaces to do a workshop with Allston/Brighton residents. The summary posted on the Harvard website proposes "a Discovery Center or interactive exhibits" in the Science Complex. In Harvard's October 2006 description of the Science Complex there is a sizable exhibition space on the first floor along Western Ave. But these ideas are nowhere in Harvard's current plans.

Tim Schofield campaign event #2

Tim is having another fundraiser, this time in downtown Boston. So if you missed the first one, you can join Tim at the Black Rose (160 State Street) on Tuesday, July 10 from 6:00PM-8:00PM.

And they’re off and running (for City Council, that is)

TAB columnist Mark Trachtenberg writes a paragraph or two about each A/B candidate for City Council in this story from last week's paper.

Evolution of the Harvard Science Complex design

Here is how the design of the buildings (viewed from across Western Ave) has changed in the last 8 months. Which is your favorite? How has it improved or not? Any architects out there who would like to offer a formal comparison?

1) October 2006
2) December 2006
3) April 2007
4) June 2007

Boston and state payroll data from BostonHerald.com

The Herald has posted the salary of all State and City employees. Searchable forms are at these links:
2007 Boston Employee Payroll
2007 State Employee Payroll