9 inches from the BRA

For more than a year, many Allston and Brighton residents and our elected officials have been asking Harvard, the BRA, and Charlesview to provide more transparency regarding the Charlesview relocation. For one example of such a request, see the page 8 of the Charlesview PNF Comment Letters.

One reason for this is to allow for independent analysis of the project's financing. Will there be sufficient money to build the new buildings with quality materials and construction? Will there will be enough money in the future for ongoing maintenance?

Harvard, the BRA, and Charlesview have resisted providing this information, so on August 17 I submitted a public records request to the BRA for records relating to the Charlesview relocation. There was some back-and-forth before the BRA would agree to provide them, and then the BRA attempted to charge a $560.39 search fee and $0.20 per page for photocopying. Thanks to Councilor Ciommo for getting the BRA to waive this fee.

So today I went to the BRA, hoping that they would provide the information electronically on a CD but instead got several hundred pages of printed emails and other documents. Later this week I expect to be able to scan some of them and post them here and I haven't yet had time to read them all, but so far my impressions are:
  • The BRA and The Community Builders have been working closely together on the Charlesview project at a surprisingly fine level of detail for its duration
  • BRA staff show a level of disrespect and hostility toward residents in Allston and Brighton that I didn't expect to see.
  • A wide range of people - from Mayor Menino, Michael Kineavy, and BRA Director Palmieri on down through the ranks - have been informed and involved in the details of this project. Many seemingly small issues get input from many people and many emails have a long list of cc's.
  • Harvard didn't seem happy back in February 2008 at the idea that the project might be increased to include the former Frugal Fannies building (which is now part of the proposed new Charlesview site).
  • BRA staff pay close attention to what I write on this blog

Remember, the next Charlesview meeting is Monday, 6pm at the Honan Library. Please join us.


  1. Thanks, Harry, for all of your efforts. I look forward to reading your findings and whatever documents you can share electronically.

  2. Would you ask for the stenographic machine record?... of the last public meeting of Boston City Council. The stenographic machine records more of proceedings, transactions and Councilors debate than the all too brief arcane Council minutes.

  3. thezak, You put this post everywhere. Could you explain why?