They said "Trust Us"

Over and over again we asked during last year's review of Harvard's Science Complex project what would be done to minimize the impact that the construction would have on our community. While nobody was trying to stop the construction, we did want it to be done in a concientious and respectful way. And we were basically told "Don't worry". Here are excerpts from a few Task Force meetings:

Commissioner Tinlin– When you anticipate there being a problem, you fix it. You’ve shown me where the problems are and what your concerns are, but then it’s up to me to fix it. Leave it to me to worry about the resources. If we need more resources, then we’ll have that discussion at a future time. We do this all the time in other areas of the city. I understand that this is real and new to you because you’re dealing with this, but trust me, we know how to deal with this. (I promised I’d never say "trust me" in public meetings – so, I guess "give me the chance to mess it up".)

Commissioner Tinlin: The construction management plan is overseen by BTD. BTD discusses it with the proponents. The developer has to develop a plan through this process and come up with a solution that provides the least amount of impact to the area affected. The construction management plan is not a formal filing. The public can comment and challenge the plan at forums like this community meeting. BTD’s charge is to keep impacts to a minimum. The construction management plan will also be monitored throughout the project. The City can shut down a project at any time if necessary.

Bryan Glascock, Director, City of Boston Environment Department, then discussed the regulation of work hours. Regulations stipulate that construction hours are Monday-Friday from 7am – 6 pm. There is a process for requesting a variance from these hours. If the neighbors agree that they would rather the project be done quicker, then it is possible to extend the hours and/or days that construction is allowed to take place. Bryan explained that heavy construction tends to be much more noisy (such as driving piles, pouring concrete, etc), but there is also quiet construction work that can take place without any neighborhood impact (such as hanging drywall, installing finishes, etc.). The variance for construction hours is granted by the Building Commissioner, but he would want to know from the neighborhood if this would be beneficial. A notice would go out in advance to all neighbors and it would be coordinated with the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

But what do we get once contstruction starts?
Harvard goes behind the community's back to get permission to continue construction work until 10:00 PM. The City lets Harvard do this with no public process. Ooops! Sorry!

Read more about it at A/B North Neighbors Forum group


  1. Anonymous6:31 AM

    Your blog seems more interested in attacking Harvard for every misstep than builidng a partnership between our community and Harvard. I don't think you're helping the community.

  2. While we talk about building a partnership, I think we also need to be realistic about the current state of the relationship between Harvard, the City, and our community. And right now I think that relationship is far from great. We spent a year hearing from Harvard that they are going to be so considerate while they build the Science Complex and that the City is going to do everything it can to protect our quality of life during the next 50 years of Harvard construction. So when Harvard and the City do exactly what they said they wouldn't, what do you think is the proper response? Personally, I feel betrayed because I did trust Harvard and the City to honor their commitments.

    I hope that posts like make clear my interest in building a true partnership, which is what I think we should aspire to create.

    I was part of a group yesterday that went to Worcester to learn about the amazing partnership that Clark University has with its Worcester neighbor. I wrote a bit about this relationship in and plan to write more about it soon to more fully examine how that small school and its neighbors have been able to work together to the benefit of all.

    I'm sorry you don't like my approach. What are your ideas for how we can help the community and build a partnership with Harvard? What would you like that partnership to be?

  3. I agree with Harry,
    Did you have BRIGHT LIGHTS Glearing into your apratments after 8:00 PM at night and cement trucks while backing up and making annoying beeping sounds up in till after 8:00 PM at night proably not. Thanks to everyone.