Wednesday is the deadline to register to vote for the Special Election for US Senate to fill the seat opened when Senator Kennedy passed away.
If you know anyone who just turned 18 -- or will by the election on January 19th -- please let them know they have until 8pm Wednesday to register if they want to vote for our next US Senator. The same goes for anyone who recently moved to Massachusetts or within our state.
Unfortunately, every year, many folks miss the deadline to register. There is a simple solution that will help young people register -- pre-registration.
Some people say young people don't vote. But in the last presidential election, four out of five 18-24s who were registered turned out to vote. That's an impressive number. The problem? Only 58% of 18-24s year-olds are registered, and, of course, no one can vote who isn't registered. Many states have increased the number of young people who are registered by simply allowing young people to register as soon as they turn 17. It's a simple step that saves money (fewer last minute registrations means less work for election officials) and helps people vote. It's time for pre-registration to become the law of the land in Massachusetts. Rep. Ellen Story has a bill in the State House to bring pre-registration to our state. MassVOTE's Young Civic Leaders are leading the charge. Can you sign our petition to help pass it? http://www.change.org/actions/view/let_youth_register_to_vote_at_17
At Quality Market (140 N Beacon St) and Brooks St Market (32 Brooks St)
Western Avenue Reconstruction - Cambridge
Filling in the gaps in the city - The Boston Globe
Of particular interest is the link provided to the previously unpublished Allston report by Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Jeremy Knowles in the 12/18 2:26 pm comment. Analysis of this report deserves its own post, but in summary it proposes a clear rationale for an Allston expansion very different than what Harvard started (but may not finish).
New Balance will clear Charles River pathways - Daily Business Update - The Boston Globe
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Maybe this newfound public health rationale will someday help make it a priority.
Highway barriers block much more than sound - The Boston Globe
"The research found that the barriers do more than protect neighbors against unwanted sounds. They also keep pollution away, reducing it by more than 50 percent on the other side of the barrier."
The Casey & Hayes building measures over 400,000 square feet and was owned by Cabot, Cabot & Forbes. CC&F carried out a beautiful renovation (the property is the large, all glass sprawling building on the north side of the Mass Pike opposite the Allston Depot restaurant.) CC&F then alternately marketed as office space and/or lab space unsuccessfully for 3 years. Harvard's purchase reduced vacancy in the Allston Brighton market by 20% in one fell swoop.But Mr. Adams, there is one big problem with your analysis. The building is still vacant! Harvard purchased this empty building 3 years ago and IT IS STILL EMPTY! Harvard has been increasing the vacancy rate in Allston and Brighton for years (VW, CITGO, Charlesbank Cleaners, Kmart, OfficeMax, Toureen, etc).
It is highly irresponsible for Mr. Adams and John Keith (who publishes Adams's post as if it were fact) to spread this inaccurate information.
Tonight she was home alone for 4 hours while I was at the BRA's Charlesview hearing. When I got home after the BRA Board's unanimous approval of the Charlesview proposal, I stepped in a pile of dog poop in my kitchen.
Quite a 1-2 punch, or something like that.
Special thanks to Councilor John Connolly who joined with many Allston/Brighton residents to oppose not the idea of Charlesview relocating but to seek a better plan for the relocation. It would have been easy for him to go with the flow, but I was impressed by his willingness to buck the tide exemplified by Councilor Ciommo and Reps Moran and Honan who joined the labor union reps, BRA, and Mayor to support this proposal.
One Charlesview resident spoke to support the proposal - thankfully she didn't bring any dead mice this time. All other Allston/Brighton residents who spoke (approx 10 people) opposed the current proposal.
On Thursday at 5:30, the Board of Directors of the Boston Redevelopment Authority will ask if residents of Allston and Brighton support the proposed Charlesview relocation. The meeting is in room 901 (9th floor) of City Hall.
It would be great to have you join us tomorrow and tell the BRA how you feel. If you are unable to attend, perhaps you could share your thoughts by replying to this email.
Thank you to the many neighbors who have contributed to the review of this project during the past several months both in person and in writing. For reference, our previous comments can be viewed at:http://www.scribd.com/doc/21133920/Charlesview-DPIR-Commentshttp://www.scribd.com/doc/19017839/Charlesview-Comment-Letters-March-2008
Carpools for tomorrow's meeting will meet at 4:30 in front of Star Market and the Honan Library.If you can't attend, the meeting will be televised live on Comcast 24/RCN 13 and at www.cityofboston.gov/cable/live.asp.
A/B Councilor Ciommo joined with a majority of his colleagues to defeat proposals to create term limits for the Mayor and City Council. According to Universal Hub, Councilor Ciommo said:
"It demonstrates a lack of confidence in the voter when we arbitrarily choose a number of terms. ... At the end of the day, it's about choice. ... My summer was ruined, Councilor Tobin, but it was a good challenge."
Here is the presentation given at last night's meeting
The excellent advocacy organization LivableStreets has created this informative info sheet for tonight's meeting about the Anderson Bridge reconstruction.
Many Allston and Brighton residents are not happy with the Charlesview proposal for the site between Soldiers Field Road, Telford St, and Western Ave. That the building was first proposed to have 118 units in a 10 story building and is now proposed to be 85 feet (7 stories) tall with 80 units is little solace. The building, in either form, will have an impact on both Western Ave and the Artesani Playground / Herter Park portion of the Charles River.
While the Allston/Brighton elected officials have written letters to the BRA and attended meetings about this project, in a different part of Boston the elected officials are doing something more.
Reps. Marty Walz, Byron Rushing, and Senator Anthony Petrucelli have sponsored H.R. 853 which would prevent any new construction that would cast a shadow on the "Charles River Esplanade, Christopher Columbus Park, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Copley Square Park, Magazine Beach Park, or Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway."
The prohibition on Charles River shadows would not apply to the Allston/Brighton section of the river, as the “Charles River Esplanade” is defined as "the land in the city of Boston bounded by the Charles River Dam, the Boston University Bridge, so called, the Charles River, Embankment Road, and James Jackson Storrow Memorial Drive."
Real estate agent John Keith thinks this legislation is a bad idea, while the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay is rallying its members to support it. In the abstract I'd agree with John that centralizing planning authority - moving it from the City to the State - might not be the way to go. But in reality, the BRA has proven itself to be no advocate for the Allston/Brighton community and unwilling to do the type of planning and zoning that we need to balance the interests of residents, developers, and the City. So anything that shifts power away from the BRA is at least worth considering.
Whether or not this specific piece of legislation is good or bad, it is refreshing to see elected officials doing everything in their power - pulling all the levers - to advance their cause. Even if the legislation doesn't pass, it certainly could create some negotiating power. Just think of the reaction if this legislation was amended to extend its reach along the Charles River to the Western Ave / Arsenal St bridge that connects North Brighton and Watertown!
The Anderson Bridge crosses the Charles between North Harvard St in Allston and JFK St in Cambridge
Council debates mayoral term limits Universal Hub
"Councilor Mark Ciommo (Allston/Brighton) opposed the measure, said that with term limits, a mayor might actually spend more time building up a machine, to run for higher office. He said the best polls are elections."
Dear Neighbors in Allston and Brighton,
It is with deep regret that I write to you with the news that in early 2011 Harvard will stop construction of the Science Complex that began construction in 2008 on Western Avenue in Allston. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my apology to the many people who looked forward to the construction jobs, permanent employment, and neighborhood revitalization that we expected this project to create.
Harvard has begun an internal review to reevaluate our long-term goals and how these goals may translate into uses for our property in Allston and Brighton. But while Harvard will and must think about the needs of the University in the decades and centuries into the future, we also recognize our obligation to be a good neighbor today and tomorrow.
To this end, I am joining with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to appoint a working group charged with making significant quality of life improvements in North Allston and North Brighton in the months and years to come. This group will report quarterly to Mayor Menino and I both in person and in writing to discuss our collective accomplishments, goals, and priorities. Their first report will be submitted on March 31, 2010.
This group will include representatives of Harvard University and the City of Boston, residents of North Allston and North Brighton, the Allston and Brighton Boards of Trade, and the Allston Village and Brighton Main Streets organizations. They will set measurable and ambitious goals and I am confident that these goals will be achieved. This group has also been empowered to seek advice and participation from people throughout Harvard University and Boston City Hall, and Mayor Menino and I encourage those who are asked to enthusiastically contribute.
It will not be quick or easy to transform all of Harvard’s property in Allston and Brighton from what it is today into what we all would like it to be. At the same time, there is great potential to make the progress that can and should be made while longer-term planning is considered.
Phase one will focus on the immediate need for property improvements, aggressive and effective leasing of vacant or partially vacant Harvard properties, and community engagement. As part of this commitment, Harvard will work with the Allston community to improve community vitality, with a particular focus on high impact locations, and regularly report progress on leasing.March 5, 2009 - Residents Protest Vacancies in Allston The Harvard Crimson
“We understand the concerns our neighbors and the city have expressed, which is why we’ve been so aggressive in our efforts to lease available property,” said University spokeswoman Lauren MarshallNovember 3, 2006 - Allston fear: Harvard is creating a 'ghost town' - Boston Business Journal
Harvard responded last month by saying it will try to lease out as much as 300,000 square feet for at least the next five years
"It is absolutely true that because we haven't been willing to make long-term commitments in that property, because we didn't know enough about what our master plan priorities were going to be, the vacancies have increased," said Kathy Spiegelman, Harvard's chief planner for Allston. "We're now trying to address that."
September 27, 2006 - Harvard Allston Draft Interim Property Use Plan
"Harvard plans to continue to lease the properties in the near term, aiming to encourage uses compatible with the interests of adjacent residential areas and conducive to the area's economic vitality"
Harvard to Suspend Work on $1 Billion Science Center - Bloomberg.com
Harvard to Halt Construction of Science Center - WSJ.com
Science center is put on hold - The Boston Globe
Harvard’s Allston plan put on hold indefinitely - BostonHerald.com
Allston Development on Ice - Harvard Magazine
Harvard Halts Construction On Allston Project - wbur.org
“As has been anticipated, the University will pause construction upon completion of the current phase, in the early spring of 2010.”
Interesting that Harvard announces this 6 hours before tonight’s BRA meeting about Charlesview, a project that Harvard is silently controlling and preventing from being as good as it can and should be.
Hope you will join us at the Honan Library tonight at 6:00 with Harvard and the BRA to discuss the new Charlesview and this important development.
For two years the ABNNF has joined dozens of neighbors to call on Harvard, the BRA, and Charlesview to do everything possible to make this project great. Specifically we suggested:
- a strong percentage of homeownership
- economic integration with housing for everyone
- maximizing the opportunity to begin the transformation of Western Ave
- a great connection from the neighborhood to the River
- family-sized units
- new parks in proportion to the number of housing units
- specific assurances that the new Charlesview will be well-built and maintained
- to include Charlesview in a plan for the redevelopment of the entire Brighton Mills / Holton St Corridor.
All of this is reasonable, possible, and in the best interests of our entire neighborhood.
Unfortunately, it has been incredibly difficult to gain the cooperation of the BRA, Charlesview, and Harvard. The result is the current proposal that has recently gotten WORSE as Charlesview (with the support of City Hall) is REMOVING homeownership and income diversity from the Brighton Mills site and "moving" it across Western Ave to a tower of 1 and 2 bedroom condos that may never be built as currently proposed (the Telford condos are not in phase one of the project and there is no firm date for its construction).
Let's not settle for this proposal that is so much less than it could be. Please join us tomorrow to stand up for excellence in our community!
Office for the Arts at Harvard: Holiday Show and Sale 2009
"We will begin a new era of innovation and excellence in the Boston Public Schools; jumpstart stalled development projects in Allston, the South Boston Waterfront, and Downtown Crossing;"
After spending two great afternoons this weekend knocking on doors and making phone calls to talk with voters about what Alan Khazei can offer to Massachusetts and our country, I would like to share with you why I - along with the Boston Globe, General Wesley Clark, BlueMassGroup.com, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, the Cape Cod Times, Max Kennedy, Vicki Strauss Kennedy, Senator Sam Nunn, Senator Harris Wofford, and over 500 citizen leaders - support Alan Khazei. (The Globe endorsement is at http://www.alanforsenate.com/globeendorsement)
* Why Alan? Alan has the potential to be a game-changing U.S. Senator, a senator who can build and lead coalitions and marshall citizen power to drive progress on the urgent issues of our day. Alan has deep experience affecting change by engaging people and changing politics, best exemplified by his co-founding of City Year. As a citizen activist he has worked with Senator Kennedy and four U.S. Presidents to pass three major pieces of service-related legislation and to successfully rally a citizen movement to fight back against former Republican leader Tom DeLay, who tried to dismantle AmeriCorps.
* How Is Alan Different From the Other Candidates? While all the Democrats share some policy positions, Alan sets himself apart from the other candidates on a number of crucial issues. According to Newsweek, Alan is "the only candidate in Massachusetts who stands fully with the President on education," in looking to offer great options to all of our children, through higher pay for teachers, differentiated pay, and expansion of successful charter schools in high-need communities. On health care, Alan is a strong supporter of a reform plan with a robust public option, and, unlike Martha Coakley and Mike Capuano, he has said he would vote for the current house or senate health care reform plans, while imperfect, because they expand coverage to 36 million Americans. And on the economy, Alan has laid out detailed plans to stimulate the economy through a comprehensive green jobs initiative, a small business hiring tax credit, a main street stimulus initiative and fully funding the Kennedy-Hatch ServeAmerica bill to create more than 250,000 service jobs.
* Can Alan Win? The answer is yes. Only one sixth of the 3.7 million eligible voters are expected to vote in this election; that means as few as 200,000 voters could win the election. Recent polls have charted Alan's rapid rise, which is a testament to our unmatched grassroots field operation. Our citizen field teams have knocked on tens of thousands of doors, with many more on the way. With the majority of voters still undecided, we absolutely can win this race.
* What Can You Do To Help? I hope you'll join me over the next few days by canvassing, emailing your friends, posting on Facebook and Twitter, or building support for him in any other way you can: http://www.alanforsenate.com/gotv.
You can find a complete list of upcoming events where you can volunteer at http://www.alanforsenate.com/page/event/search_results?orderby=date
Another way to help is to make a donation at http://alan.helpmycampaign.com/HarryMattison/donate. Alan is not accepting money from PACs, lobbyists, and special interest groups, so it has to be contributions from citizens like us who fund this campaign, put ads on TV, and spread the word. Together, we can make a difference!
I hope you will support Alan on Tuesday -- let's take this chance to elect a real reformer to represent us in the Senate.
Thanks for your consideration,
For Harvard, success isn’t measured in financial returns - The Boston Globe
But Harvard is not a business. It’s a public trust - protected by nonprofit laws, free of most taxes, recipient of billions of government dollars - and its success shouldn’t be measured in its rate of return on investments.
...But the hole in the ground in Allston where a life-sciences center was supposed to be, the near-freeze on academic hiring, and the costly interest being paid on bonds to cover university expenses are all legacies of that policy.
...Yet its prime concern in crafting a new strategy should not be to maximize returns at any cost, but rather to maintain the stability necessary to grow and prosper as an institution. The larger communities of Boston and Cambridge, which depend on Harvard, would be grateful - just as they are justified now in their anger and chagrin.
5-7 Boulevard Terrace - Extend living space into the basement and attic and renovate
51 Burton Street - Extend the width of the driveway and allow parking for one additional vehicle.
139-141 Tremont - Demolish existing structure and erect a six unit townhouse
Harvard University kicks off 'shop local' event in Harvard Square - Cambridge Chronicle
Harvard president Drew Faust, members of the Harvard community and the Harvard Business Square Association and neighbors will ring in the holiday season at a welcome kiosk with information about shops, discounts to Harvard Square businesses, live music performed by Harvard students, hot cocoa, and more.
Suffolk University and the Boston Herald sponsored a debate this morning between the four candidates for US Senate. For their closing statements, they were asked what they will do if not elected to the Senate.
Steve Pagliuca, at 62:55 in the linked video, says he will work to build a $3 billion complex on Harvard property in Allston. He says he has momentum from businesses to help fund it and momentum from universities to be part of it. Considering that the Science Complex Harvard started building was a $1B project, he certainly is setting his sights high.
Brookline seeking stimulus money to help fix the 66 - Brookline TAB
Boston College Law student organizes Democratic Candidates Forum - The Boston College Chronicle
Harvard, Charlesview, and the BRA apparently still haven't figured this out. They prefer to build a segregated new Charlesview instead of the integrated development that is possible. What a shame for the residents of Charlesview and our entire neighborhood that expediency may trump excellence.
Harvard ignored warnings about investments - The Boston Globe
"Under Neil Rudenstine, Harvard’s president from 1991 to 2001, cash was heavily invested in the endowment and surged from $290 million to $2 billion. Under Summers, the figure more than doubled again, according to a compilation of the data obtained by the Globe. The big project on Summers’s agenda: Harvard’s expansion across the river, into Allston."
“We hope that the BRA and the mayor are acknowledging the important discussions that need to take place before the project can be approved,” said Harry Mattison, a member of the Allston-Brighton North Neighbors Forum.
Mattison hopes the Brookline Machine site can be developed alongside the Charlesview apartments, whether by TCB or a private developer. The ABNNF sees the Brookline Machine site as a potential location for additional housing and park space, according to Mattison.
“We hope that this [the delay] will be really as short as possible. And the result will be a vastly improved Charlesview that will set the right tone for subsequent development in Allston-Brighton,” said Mattison.
Leasing vacant storefronts would be a great start. But I'd agree with Emily Rooney that many of these buildings, especially after sitting vacant for years, may not be viable. And "storefronts" are only a small fraction of the vacant land, warehouses, and commercial buildings that Harvard has been landbanking that deserve a more active future.
Regarding an accelerated spending of the Science Complex "community benefits", it should be noted that:
- These benefits were intended to complement the construction of the Science Complex. The Science Complex itself would have created many benefits for this community, as some of the 2,300 direct and indirect jobs that it created would have gone to current and future A/B residents and its presence would have improved Western Ave.
Now that it appears that there will be no Science Complex in the foreseeable future, no 2,300 jobs, and no LEED Gold building improving Western Ave, whatever benefits might have made sense with the Science Complex seem inadequate as we face a future with an 8 acre concrete slab.
- Harvard and the BRA have made some choices about how to spend this money that does very little to improve the quality of life for Allston/Brighton residents.
- If we were really trying to maximize the community benefit of this money, there is no way we would spend $5.7 million on the construction and maintenance of Library Park or $500,000 on a community survey.
- The $4.5 million going into the Citywide jobs and housing trust funds will only benefit Allston and Brighton if it is spent in Allston and Brighton.
Heal the town-gown ruptures: North Allston has a hole in its heart, after being seduced and abandoned by Harvard University. Harvard’s secret predations into Allston were bad enough, but its ambitious expansion plans are now on hold because of the crash in its endowment, leaving behind boarded-up businesses and rats. Menino ought to use a little of that pent-up political capital to “encourage’’ Harvard - and all the universities bent on expansion into Boston - to keep their commitments to the neighborhoods.
Menino has sent a letter to Harvard president Drew Faust, calling on her to make sure the buildings Harvard bought up “contribute to the vitality of the community.’’ But Harvard has been slow to lease the vacant storefronts. Menino should press the university to spend its promised $25 million in community benefits sooner rather than later.
In the past I was no fan of term limits, but since then I have come around to support them because the power of incumbency is too strong and too intimidating to many potential candidates. Let good people serve a couple terms and then open the way for new people and new ideas. If we could really get to the root of the issues that create such an imbalance between incumbents and challengers I would support that instead, but in the meantime I think term limits are the best and most feasible option that we have.
A bill to limit Boston mayors to two four-year terms is before the City Council's Government Operations Committee, but it isn't clear if or when Dorchester City Councilor Maureen Feeney who chairs that committee will bring the bill to the full council for a vote.
Please contact Councilor Feeney at (617) 635-3455 or Maureen.Feeney@cityofboston.gov and ask her to bring this bill to a vote by the full council.
Councilor Yoon's last gasp: Mayoral term limits Universal Hub
Sam Yoon seeks term limits on mayor’s seat - July 14, 2009 - BostonHerald.com
Also in the news today - Harvard funds anti-rat trash bins to fight rodent scourge - BostonHerald.com
2,600 trash cans @ $100 each = A unexpected precedent for how $260,000 from Harvard will be spent in Allston
Well, it turns out that they will postpone it, though the reason stated below doesn't mention ABNNF's request. Regardless of the reason, this is a positive development as it gives us more time to work towards the important and reasonable improvements that would make this a much better addition to our neighborhood.
From: Rourke, Jay
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 5:04 PM
Subject: [AB2006] Public Hearing - The Redevelopment of Charlesview
The BRA feels that the Charlesview redevelopment project has completed the public process and is ready for consideration by the BRA Board of Directors for approval. Nonetheless, it will be removed from tomorrow night’s agenda because there is no finalized agreement between Harvard University and the BRA concerning the future of the adjacent Brookline Machinery site. The public hearing will be rescheduled and re-advertised once a satisfactory agreement with Harvard has been achieved.
Brighton Centered: Short-Term Commercial Leases Please Residents -- In the Fenway
The BRA Board will consider the Charlesview proposal on Tuesday at 5:30 in room 900 on the 9th floor of City Hall.
It is interesting that:
- In March, Charlesview planned with the BRA to have 240 apartments at the Brighton Mills site (page 4).
- In July, Charlesview publicly announced plans for 260 apartments at Brighton Mills.
- Today, in an email sent this afternoon from the BRA, Charlesview has "responded to public comments and reduced the number of apartments at Brighton Mills to 240."
Was Charlesview ever serious about 260 or was this all a set-up so that they could pretend to be responsive when they made this change from their previously published plans?
- The BRA has no information about how Charlesview will pay for the post-construction operations and maintenance of Charlesview, despite the BRA's own insistance in its Scoping Determination that this information be provided and Charlesview's consistent problems with maintenance and generating a sufficient revenue stream for repairs.
- The only information the BRA has about construction financing for Charlesview is from April, 2008 when we were all living with a very different economy. (page 29)
- The BRA has no information about ownership, public access, and maintenance of new parks and other supposedly public areas created by Charlesview, so we don't know if the tiny parks being planned will really be open to the public or restricted to Charlesview residents and we don't know how they will be maintained.
If this is how the BRA reviews a large development proposal, I am not impressed.Charlesview Records Nov 12 2009
First, I was at the John Hancock Tower for a meeting and locked my bike to a sign post on Clarendon Street. When I got back to my bike, I found this note:
This letter is to inform you that securing your bicycle to sign posts or trees located along our property is not permitted. The owners work very hard to make this property attractive to the Back Bay neighborhood.Now I am all for attractive property, but I disagree that bicycles are unattractive. To the contrary, I think it is great to see lots of bicycles as part of a green and healthy community. Also, if they realistically want to keep bikes in an orderly and contained location, I'd suggest some convenient bike racks. Expecting people to bring their bikes 350 yards (according to Google Maps) to a parking garage seems unrealistic.
There are bike racks located in the garage @ 100 Clarendon Street for your convenience.
Your attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated.
John Hancock Tower
From the Hancock I biked to an appointment at Mass General Hospital and locked my bike to a sign post on the sidewalk of Blossom Street. None of the valet parking attendants who were nearby said anything as I locked my bike and entered the building.
When I returned, I found a cable lock padlocked onto my bike in addition to my U lock. The valet told me to call MGH Security, and 20 minutes later someone arrived to unlock my bike and tell me to use a bike rack on the other side of the building.
Senate candidates disclose assets - The Boston Globe
Coakley, the state attorney general, was the only candidate to report that neither she, nor her spouse, had any reportable financial asset worth more than $1,000 - a striking disclosure for one of the state’s top officeholders. While Coakley owns her home in Medford, she indicated that she did not have more than $5,000 in combined accounts from any one banking institution during the past 21 months.Coakley says she erred on disclosure - The Boston Globe
Attorney General Martha Coakley, the state’s top lawyer, acknowledged today that she improperly filled out a federal financial disclosure she submitted to the US Senate as part of her candidacy in the special election.
Read for yourself about the management situation at Charlesview. Charlesview knows in advance when these inspections will be done. Why didn't they correct these many easily correctable violations before the inspectors arrived?
The BRA was right in their Scoping Determination to require that:
"Assurances must be clear, exact and extensively detailed in the DPIR as to how the Proposed Project, if approved, will be maintained to avoid and minimize future neglect"
But the DPIR provides no such information. Why has the BRA backed down from this requirement?
During the review process I noted that Harvard made bogus claims about public spaces in the buildings and the general attitude that the four-building complex was for Harvard and Harvard people, not for Allston/Brighton and its residents. So Harvard told us to keep out of the Science Complex's fitness center ("sorry, too small"), keep out of the private rooftop restaurant and bar ("sorry, security threat"), keep out of the Harvard shuttle buses (a security or insurance risk) and keep our kids out of the daycare (unless your kid is one of the 15%). Harvard designed a first floor with little retail or restaurants and eliminated the small museum-type space that was in the initial plan.
Overall, Harvard chose to ignore the many opportunities to have the complex help make Western Ave more vibrant, remove town/gown barriers, and think about how this massive complex and first step in the campus expansion could also be a first step in a neighborhood renaissance.
While I still disagree with Harvard's approach, if they were building the entire complex with private funds I guess you could say "it is their money so they can do what they want with it." Well, if instead it is going to be partially funded with our money then a very different attitude would be appropriate.
Stephen Pagliuca has Allston plan - BostonHerald.com
Tuesday, November 10, 7pm and 12midnight
Repeats weekdays 5am, 11am, 11pm, WGBH World
Sundays 9:30am, WGBH 44
Or watch it On Demand on Comcast 1
Harvard's Allston Expansion
Citing the recession and it's major impact on the university's endowment, Harvard continues to re-assess it's expansion plan in Allston. A number of Allston residents are upset over stalled construction and vacant buildings in the neighborhood. Tonight Emily is joined by Brent Whelan of the Allston-Brighton North Neighbor's Forum, Kevin McCluskey of Harvard University and Michael Glavin, the deputy director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Especially if you work downtown, in Kendall Sq, or anywhere else where you aren't too far from City Hall, it would be a great help if you can spend 1/2 hour to show that we care about the future of our neighborhood and want to improve the current proposal instead of settling for this second-rate design.
Here is one example of how the current proposal could be much better. Here are 7 proposed buildings each with a thin strip (probably 5-10 feet) of grass on the sides. The block contains 24 units (18 condos and 6 apartments). Instead of backyards for these 24 units, the space behind the buildings is a 14 car parking lot.
Maybe some people would be OK with a parking lot instead of a backyard, but this sure would be nicer if the parking could be added to the proposed 260-car underground garage or done with a combination of driveways, garages, and on-street parking.
"Now nearly 40 years old, the existing Charlesview property has reached the end of its useful life and requires redevelopment to continue its legacy as a critical housing source for North Allston Brighton."
- Capital items that generally require large cash outlays (such as new roofs and new appliances)
- Ordinary items are repairs that require smaller cash outlays (such as light fixtures, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors)
|Date||Capital Items||Ordinary Items|
|March 2002||Bathroom sinks damaged or missing||Obstructed or missing accessibility routes|
Broken/missing/cracked window panes
Auxiliary lighting inoperable
Damaged door hardware/locks
|January 2004||Bathroom sinks damaged or missing||Auxiliary lighting inoperable|
Damaged door frames
Electrical covers missing
Damaged door surfaces
Damaged door hardware/locks
|April 2008||none||16 unique defect types|
Obstructed or missing accessibility routes
So according to HUD's inspectors, Charlesview for the past 4 years hasn't needed any major capital improvements and in the past 7 years the only capital repair needed was new sinks in some bathrooms. At the same time, there are many smaller things not being done to HUD's standards including fences that need to be repaired, grass that needs to be mowed, light switches that need covers, fire exits that are blocked, walls that need to painted, etc.
This does not support the claims that Charlesview has been fundamentally flawed since its construction or that the buildings are in urgent need of replacement. These reports do indicate that basic, regular maintenance at Charlesview has been highly inconsistent during the past several years.
BPDNews.com - News Updates from the Boston Police Department
When I am near a scanner I will upload the full reports, but in the meantime, here are the number of Health and Safety deductions made during each report (higher numbers indicate more problems).
The April 2008 report gave Charlesview an overall score of 50 out of 100, and HUD wrote that "the inspection has been referred to the Departmental Enforcement Center for enforcement action... Properties scoring below 60 have physical deficiencies that do not meet the contractual obligations to HUD. Residents of such properties are not receiving the quality of housing to which they are entitled."
However, four months later Charlesview had been able to correct almost all of these problems. This contradicts the oft-repeated statements that the condition of Charlesview is so intolerable and the problems there are too difficult to fix.
More PILOT money is of course good for the entire City, while ending Harvard's landbanking would be good for Allston and Brighton. So when the Mayor's people and Harvard's people are discussing these issues, which one comes first?
Murphy says PILOT deal is on its way Jamaica Plain Gazette
"But the government and institutions are negotiating well now, Murphy said, describing positive progress. Because the city cannot legally require any PILOT deals, the agreement will rely on goodwill and political pressure. "
60 North Crescent Circuit - Remove and rebuild existing rear porch
The Harvard Crimson :: News :: Menino Elected for Fifth Term
Former City Councilor mayoral candidate Lawrence S. DiCara ’71, who said he continues to follow Boston politics closely, described the mayor’s relationship with Harvard as “cooperative.” “They’ve been working together on Allston,” DiCara said. “That doesn’t mean that Harvard can buy up land and do nothing with it, though.”
For anyone interested in the finer details of yesterday's results
http://www.cityofboston.gov/maps/pdfs/ward_and_precincts.pdf (small file)
http://www.cityofboston.gov/maps/pdfs/ward_and_precinct_withstreets.pdf (larger file)
Congratulations to Mark and thank you to Alex for his willingness to challenge an incumbent - an uphill battle in any election but one that also strengthens our democracy and civic life.
The morsel that seems most consistent with Harvard's situation in Allston is this idea that Faust got from HBS Prof Michael Porter - “Strategy is what you choose not to do.”
Corner Office - Drew Gilpin Faust - Leadership Without a Secret Code - NYTimes.com
So I was surprised to hear during an interview on WBUR's Radio Boston (at the 2:00 mark in the show) that new single family homes are being built elsewhere in Boston, specifically on Dudley Street in Dorchester. Here's a reference to this new construction from Boston Magazine:
"Along Dudley Street, new condos and single-family homes are sprouting up like fresh spring perennials."
One thing that always interests me is the amount of money that candidates get from people who live outside their district. Sure, candidates might have friends from elsewhere who want to support their friend with 'no strings attached', but that doesn't tell the whole story.
For example, take a look at the people from outside Massachusetts who have given $500 to Martha Coakley in the past few years.
Why has New York lawyer Stanley Bernstein and his wife Vivian given $3,000 to the MA Attorney General during the past 3 years?
What about Turner Smith and Sabrina Coughlin who live at the same address on Park Avenue in NY? Why have they given $4,500 to AG Coakley?
OpenSecrets.org shares some information about who is filling Rep. Capuano's campaign account during this election cycle, such as the National Beer Wholesalers Assn and the American Dental Assn who both have given him $10,000 through their PACs.
The Harvard Crimson :: Opinion :: Dissent: Bursting Harvard’s Bubble
Allston shouldn’t suffer on Harvard’s account - The Boston Globe
9-31 Braintree Street: Legalize existing billboard and replace existing billboard with a new digital/electronic billboard.
1954 Commonwealth Avenue: Change the legal occupancy from a three family dwelling to a sixteen unit dwelling. Erect a six story, rear addition with eleven parking spaces below.
On a lighter note, the Globe notes the promised hug between Flaherty and Allston resident Paul Alford - Hugs all around - The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe has posted this story, and we were joined by, among others, camera crews from New England Cable News and Fox 25 and a reporter for WBUR's Radio Boston, so check them out for additional coverage.
Next stop: low-cost diesel rail? - The Boston Globe
For the past five years, the City of Boston has been advocating the use of DMUs for Allston and Brighton and Dorchester, using existing tracks.
“Right now, it’s really at a concept level,’’ said Vineet Gupta, director of planning for the Boston Transportation Department.
It’s not clear whether Jeff Mullan, who takes over for Aloisi, shares his vision on DMUs. He said on Friday that it was premature for him to comment and that he is focused on merging the state’s road systems as part of a historic reorganization project. But he and Aloisi have spoken about the idea, he said. Durrant later added that it’s “not something we’re considering in the near future.’’
Thanks to the Globe for helping expose how the BRA really feels about the residents of Boston. A few thoughts:
Senior officials at the BRA have been getting these disgusting emails for 20 months but apparently had no problem with them. But when a Globe reporter starts making phone calls, then the BRA decides that a verbal warning is appropriate. I wonder what it takes for a BRA employee to get a written warning?
"Later Thursday, the BRA said Rourke had received a “verbal warning’’ over the e-mails in his personnel file."
Does anyone really think this is an apology?
On Thursday, Rourke apologized to Allston residents who were offended by the messages. “These are internal e-mails,’’ he said. “They are my comments to staff members and should not reflect on the agency.’’Rourke said he had lived in
Allston for 27 years while growing up and is “passionate’’ about the neighborhood and the project.
“In the heat of the moment, sometimes your passions get the best of you, unfortunately,’’ he said.
When you are a public employee, there really is no such thing as an "internal email" (except in the limited exemptions allowed by the Public Records law). Maybe the BRA thought we were too dumb or ignorant to actually file a public records request.
Why shouldn't these emails sent to so many people inside and outside the BRA by a BRA employee reflect on the BRA?
Breaking the law
My Public Records request specifically requested all financial documents regarding the construction financing of the new Charlesview. The BRA provided none. But the BRA admits that it has had this data.
"Elsbree said BRA staff had reviewed the project’s finances to ensure that it can be completed"
I can't help wonder why they write "would" in the second sentence below. Harvard has made pretty clear for several months that their 2007 plans for Allston are out the window and nothing new is forthcoming.
Meanwhile, the turnabout on the science complex created uncertainty for an entire neighborhood. Completion of the project will transform Allston, where Harvard owns much of the land, but an indefinite delay would leave the neighborhood in limbo.Also, has anyone seen a chastened Harvard official in Allston yet? President Faust may act chastened when speaking to Boston's business elite, but here in Allston and Brighton during this year it, unfortunately, has been the same old same old.
University officials are clearly chastened. In her speech, Faust acknowledged that Harvard had suffered because it couldn’t call back assets overseen by external managers.It's a university, not a hedge fund - The Boston Globe
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences academic progress, financial problems Harvard Magazine
Physical and financial planning for renewal of the undergraduate Houses—expected to be a billion-dollar-plus project extending more than a decade, and perhaps beginning in 2012—has now been centralized under the direction of the University’s Allston Development Group and vice president for finance.
"President Clinton Avenue has developed from a forgotten district of abandoned warehouses into a vibrant social hub of our community," Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said. "In a picturesque and walkable setting, President Clinton Avenue has become the lynchpin of a district that includes a major tourist attraction, an acclaimed lecture series, the farmers' market and an array of restaurants, musical venues and museums."
Banker & Tradesman:"'We are undertaking a leasing program,' Faust told reporters, after addressing the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. 'We're trying to find interesting and vibrant tenants for spaces in AllstonMahoney's is Havard's one interesting and vibrant tenant here. Seeing more would sure be great.
Harvard President Drew Faust said this morning that the university is in the midst of re-assessing options for its long-planned expansion into Allston, including the possibility of "re-imagining" the $1 billion science complex at the heart of the project as the university grapples with its new financial realities.
...during an impromptu meeting with reporters following a Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Faust said that "we're trying to assess options which would be affordable."
A potential redesign of the 589,000-square-foot science complex is the first public indication by Harvard officials that the complex will not only be delayed, as Faust first warned in February, but may not go forth as currently envisioned.
Does anyone know which residents Harvard is supposedly working with on this? I went to the Allston Civic Association meeting in June to hear about the exciting progress that Harvard claimed to be making on finding a tenant for Harvard's abandoned CITGO station. But four months later the building is still empty.
She said the university is working with residents to discuss interim uses for
the vacant Harvard-owned buildings and lots in the once industrial neighborhood
We have daffodils, grape hyacinth, snowdrops, scilla, hyacinth, and more! There are plenty of small bulbs just right for little hands, so kids are welcome too. Please bring a shovel and/or trowel if you have them.
Thanks to the New England Grassroots Environment Fund for the grant that funded this purchase and to White Flower Farm for their assistance with selecting bulb species and for providing a generous discount.
- Physical model that was on display at the meeting - http://vimeo.com/7134515
- Charlesview presentation and comments by BRA Director Palmieri and Chief Planner Shen - http://vimeo.com/7134683
- Public comments, part 1- http://vimeo.com/7134708
- Public comments, part 2 - http://vimeo.com/7134727
- Public comments, part 3 - http://vimeo.com/7134765
- Public comments, part 4 - http://vimeo.com/7134799
It's because over the past several years the Menino Administration has repeatedly made serious errors that have harmed the quality of life for residents of Charlesview and people throughout North Allston and North Brighton. We may never know why he chose to do, or not do, these things, but recent reports make clear that if it involves development in the city of Boston, the decisions are being made at the desk of Tom Menino.
1) Where was Menino during years of mismanagement at Charlesview?
In 1995, the HUD District Inspector General wrote this memo to the State's Office of Housing. He found that:
"The project has not raised rents since 1991 and, therefore, is not generating sufficient income for repairs. The project currently needs over $3 million for repairs"
"Due to lack of cash flow, the project delayed critical repairs. Physical inspections demonstrate a steady decline in the project's physical condition"
"The Regulatory Agreement requires the owners to keep the project in good repair and condition. It is clear that the Regulatory Agreement is not being followed and the project is deteriorating."
Tom Menino became Mayor of Boston in 1993, and it shouldn't have been much of a secret that Charlesview was deteriorating. Why didn't he do anything about it?
2) Why does the Mayor's review process disenfranchise the residents of Charlesview?
In 2005, the Charlesview Residents Organization wrote this urgent letter asking "who is working on behalf of the residents?" and insisting that their organization "be at the table to ensure that the residents' welfare is protected". Mayor Menino received a copy of this letter, and what did he do about it?
In 2006, the president of the Charlesview Residents Organization asked, "Why is everything kept in secret? Why have you ignored our wishes?"
In 2008, Mayor Menino selected residents of Allston and Brighton to serve on the Impact Advisory Group for the City's review of the proposal. He could have make sure that Charlesview residents would be directly represented. But instead he created an IAG without a single resident of Charlesview.
3) Why hasn't the Mayor done more to improve living conditions for the 500+ residents at Charlesview?
A Harvard Crimson story in 2003 described Charlesview as in need of “absolute repair".
In June 2008, the BRA was informed that Charlesview received a failing grade on its inspection by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
To this day, residents of Charlesview continue to describe poor living conditions, rodents, leaks, and more. For these many years, where have Boston's housing inspectors been?
Boston requires property owners to get newly rented apartments inspected within 45 days of rental and certified by the Housing Inspection Division to bring rental units into compliance with the State Sanitary Code. In this brochure, Menino writes
"As mayor of Boston, I want to ensure that tenants and landlords of residential rental properties are treated fairly and that safe sanitary housing is available in all neighborhoods."
For the last 16 years, why hasn't Menino been ensuring that residents of Charlesview have safe and sanitary housing?
4) Does the Mayor support economic segregation in a new Charlesview?
A recent Harvard publication states that "the clustering of lowest-income and assisted renter households imposes a host of social and economic disadvantages on these groups". But in spite of this widespread understanding about what works and what doesn't work, Menino's BRA has allowed the submission of a radically segregated proposal for the new Charlesview
This proposal includes 260 low-income apartments massed together next to a shopping center parking lot. On the other side of Western Ave, 74 market-rate condo are proposed overlooking the Charles River. The contrast between the "haves" and the "have nots" could not be more stark.
5) Why does the Mayor ignore the needs of Allston/Brighton for a more stable and invested community?
Allston and Brighton need more homeownership, as we have one of the state's lowest homeownership rates and too many absentee landlords with little stake in our quality of life. But instead of working with Harvard to address this, the Mayor's BRA is pushing a Charlesview proposal with only 26 homeownership units around the edge of the 260 apartments at the Brighton Mills site.
6) Why does the Mayor's BRA fail to keep promises made to the residents of North Allston and North Brighton?
Dozens of residents attended dozens of meetings to work with the BRA and Harvard on the 2005 North Allston Strategic Framework for Planning.
|This vague, though superficially attractive, document was published with a cover letter signed by Mayor Menino. The Framework promised 2 follow-up studies, one of which would focus on the 30 acre Holton Street Corridor, a swath of poorly-designed and under-used commercial and industrial space between Western Ave and the Mass Pike. |
After three years of stalling by the BRA, planning for the Holton Street Corridor finally began in 2008. But by then, Harvard had preempted the public planning process by signing a agreement with the Charlesview Board in 2007 for a land-swap to relocate the Charlesview Apartments into the Corridor.
During BRA planning meetings in 2008 and 2009, residents repeatedly asked the BRA to discuss the homeownership/rental balance of new construction in the Holton Street Corridor, ratios and physical integration of housing for people of all income levels, and the location of new civic buildings (such as a K-8 elementary school). Staff of Menino's BRA continually deferred these issues and then, in the summer of 2009, declared that the planning was complete before any of these subjects had been properly addressed.
7) Why is Menino's BRA so secretive?
For more than a year, residents of Allston and Brighton and their elected officials have asked Menino's BRA to provide more transparency into the planning and financing of the Charlesview relocation. The BRA has consistently refused to provide requested information and the BRA has failed to fully comply with three Public Records Law requests filed in the past two months.
Just imagine, all this from a Mayor who said earlier this year "We're more transparent than Saran Wrap."
8) Why is Menino's BRA even considering approving a project that may lack financing to complete construction and maintain the property after it is built?
Considering the maintenance problems at the current Charlesview and the aborted construction projects in Allston and throughout Boston, how is it possible that a new project can be seriously considered without solid proof that the developer will have the money to build it right and maintain the property after construction is complete?
In April 2008, the BRA required that "assurances must be clear, exact, and extensively detailed in the DPIR as to how the Proposed Project, if approved, will be maintained to avoid and minimize future neglect."
But July 2009, the BRA allowed the developer to submit a DPIR that contains no such information. Specific requests to the BRA and developer for information about construction financing have been ignored.
To make matters worse, at a September 15 public meeting, Menino's Chief Planner publicly questioned the project's financing and the developer's ability to complete a project of this size.