Harvard locks out Allston

For several years there has been an opening in the fence between Smith Field and Harvard's athletic fields that allowed people walking from Western Ave to North Harvard Street take a more pleasant route through the fields instead of using the Western & North Harvard sidewalks. It wasn't an official gate or anything like that, just a "home-made" hole maybe 4 feet high that you had to bend over to walk through and hope you didn't catch your back on the top of the opening. Regardless, many people did use this shortcut and certainly no harm seemed to come from it.

A new fence was recently installed between Harvard's property and Smith Field. The old fence seemed to be in fine shape and the new fence is basically the same as the old one, so it isn't clear why Harvard or the City decided it was worth $50,000 to replace the 1,000 foot long fence. The new fence has no opening where the old one did, though it does have a gate in the back (north-east) corner. But this gate is locked with a big padlock so it certainly isn't helping the pedestrian trying to get from one side to the other.

The motivation for this is limiting of access is hard to understand. Harvard talks a lot about making their campus and Allston in general more pedestrian-friendly, but this is a step in the opposite direction. On page 9 of the new Cooperation Agreement there is specific mention of creating new public pathways on Harvard property. Maybe these will materialize in the future, but for now we'll just have to wonder why this pathway is no more and if this a good fence from a good neighbor.

1 comment:

  1. There are two other, nearby gates that have been recently padlocked:

    (1) south side of the Harvard track, connecting with the shuttle bus parking lot; and

    (2) northeast corner of the Harvard track, next to the discus/hammer throwing site.

    Both have been unlocked literally for years and years. There is a posted sign that track usage is not allowed during varsity practices, but otherwise Harvard has informally allowed the neighborhood residents to use the track. (Community running groups have to apply to use the track and demonstrate that they carry their own insurance.)

    The northwest corner of the track next to the memorial rock remains unlocked.