Getting to Four with Harvard

Getting to Yes, the famous book written by Harvard negotiation experts, is a classic on the subject of how to have productive and rewarding negotiations that lead to mutually acceptable agreements. More recently, another pair of Harvard profs wrote 3D Negotiation - a book that stresses the importance of the "setup":

"The setup ensures that the right parties have been approached, in the right sequence, to address the right interests, under the right expectations, at the right table or tables"
Thursday morning at 8:00 at the Ed Portal is the first walk-in coffee hour with Bill Purcell. This upcoming opportunity, which is mentioned in a Harvard Crimson story but seemingly not at or, raises some questions about what interests should be discussed and what expectations are constructive to have at this point in the Harvard-Allston relationship.

For the past several years, many questions asked by residents of Allston and Brighton to various Harvard employees have been returned with some form of "I don't know" or "I'll have to get back to you on that." Most recently, questions about the Science Complex and the status and schedule of Harvard's Allston Work Team have received variations on that response. We hear these non-answers so often that, for some, it may be hard to believe. As the Crimson reported:

"University officials remained unable to present detailed updates on the future
of Harvard's campus across the river... University officials did not present a
timeline for moving forward with construction on the Science Complex"
Are there times when Harvard employees have information that they don't want to share? Maybe on some occasions the answer really is unknown and other times the answer is known but will not be shared, especially in a large public meeting with the media in attendance.

Perhaps it is helpful to categorize any question we might ask or subject we might attempt to raise on Thursday and in the future. Issues in categories 1, 2, and 3 are more likely to receive an "I don't know".

Category 1: The answer is not known, and even if it was known it would not be shared

Category 2: The answer is known, but Harvard considers it none of our business.

Category 3: The answer would be provided, but it doesn't exist.

Only when we get into category 4 might Harvard feel comfortable and confident enough to provide an answer or discuss a topic. So while Harvard might be delighted to talk about a "4" like the design of Library Park, trying to discuss Harvard's budget for Allston construction through 2015 (or 2025) seems like more like a dead-end "1".

This methodology, if it has any validity, is difficult to use because the Allston/Brighton public knows so little about Harvard's current state of planning and operations. Has Harvard really gone back to square one (or earlier) and thrown out all of the planning for the Science Complex and the rest of the Allston 50 year plan that we saw back in 2007? What are all those Harvard Deans discussing during their Allston meetings? Do they really have no schedule for their planning and deliberations?

If we could talk with Bill Purcell about Harvard's openness and certainty regarding various relevant to the Allston/Brighton community, and when and how they might move towards 4, that would seem like a pretty constructive way to spend a coffee hour.

Taste Allston for lunch today

From noon to 3 today is the annual Taste of Allston , a great chance to support local businesses and try the wide variety of food from around the world served by restaurants in the Allston Village district.
12-3 PM
Murr Center @ Harvard Athletic Complex, 65 North Harvard St

Everett St ribbon-cutting on Monday

On Monday at 3:00 Mayor Menino will be in North Allston for a ribboncutting at the new Community Green Space at the intersection of Everett & Holton (alongside the German International School). The Charles River Watershed Association and Allston Brighton CDC have done a great job with this project and hopefully the green will keep spreading along Everett St in the years to come.

Allston Org Changes @ Harvard

Farewell to the ADG - the Allston Development Group and the University Planning Office are merging into a new department of Capital Planning and Project Management. A national search is underway for a VP to lead this new organization.

Harvard To Merge Allston Development Group and Univ. Planning Office | The Harvard Crimson

Everett Street flowers

Many interesting flowers are blooming all over the Everett Street slope (between Lincoln & Adamson Streets). The blue asters are particularly abundant and feel free to stop by to pick some if you'd like. Soon we will also have tons of Cosmos and other flowers opening as we move into the summer.

Harvard Allston Farmers Market opens today

One of Allston's seasonal treats is the Farmers Market in the Harvard parking lot at the corner of Western Ave and N. Harvard St, open Fridays from 3-7 pm.

Allston Civic Association meets tonight at Honan Library, 6:30

  • Inspectional Services Dept. - A representative from the city's I.S.D. will be on hand to discuss problems related to absentee landlords.
  • Harvard University: Presentation of Fall Football Schedule
  • Shabu Shabu, Brighton Ave. Request for extension of hours until 1:00A.M.
  • Night Star Deli, 59-63 Harvard Ave. Proposal for 24 hour convenience store
NOTE: Anyone who wishes to come early (6:00P.M.) to have a discussion about closing times for restaurants/convenience stores/bars and other late night businesses is welcome.

CSX Leaving Allston Next Year

Removing the easements will make it possible for Harvard to build new buildings on the CSX property, but until the Science Complex is completed it is hard to imagine Harvard starting construction of something else.

Much is riding on Worcester rail deal - The Boston Globe

A long-awaited, $100 million deal between the state and railroad giant CSX will move operations from the company’s sprawling rail yard in Allston to Central and Western Massachusetts and add at least seven train trips to the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line in 2012.

CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan said Allston train operations would be shifted west by 2012. That clears the way for Harvard University to finally assume control of the site. Since 2001, the university has purchased around 140 acres in the area, said spokeswoman Lauren Marshall. After CSX leaves, the university will probably seek to remove easement restrictions, making construction of new university buildings possible.

A/B Parking Fines Going Up?

Boston Mayor Menino Wants Parking Tickets To Increase From $15 To $25 In Some Neighborhoods, Allston -
Boston's Mayor Menino wants to increase the fines for parking at expired meters and in no parking zones from $15 to $25.

This wouldn't apply to downtown zones, where fines are already more expensive, but to outlying neighborhoods like Allston/Brighton.

Upcoming zoning hearing

31 Matchett Street - Remove and replace roof, extend living space into the attic, erect two dormers and renovate.

Transportation, safety, and other improvement opportunities near the Charles River

Almost 2 years ago, a Brighton resident wrote to the Boston Globe's GlobeWatch about the unsafe situation at "the congested, sprawling intersection at Leo M. Birmingham Parkway and Soldiers Field Road between the Arsenal Street Bridge and Western Avenue." A DCR spokeswoman told the Globe that "We're going to take a look at that intersection as soon as we can." I don't know if DCR has taken a look yet, but no improvements have been made.

With all the talk about bicycles, pedestrians, the environment, and creating more healthy lifestyles, here are a few videos showing some opportunities for improvements at that intersection and a couple other nearby locations.

Harvard slices, dices, but wait! There's more!

Bruce and Bob sum it up pretty well in their quotes below.

Task Force Meeting Presents No Clear Timeline for Allston Campus | The Harvard Crimson
But many residents agreed that the meeting was merely an "informercial," as Bruce Houghton, a task force member said during the meeting, which provoked a wave of laughs from the audience.

"We have a finite life, and Harvard does not. They can outlive us," said Robert W. Alexander, an Allston resident who worked part-time for Harvard before retiring in 2007. "They listen, they lend an ear, and they do nothing about it. It's very frustrating."

Chris Gordon leaving Allston (sort of)

Chris Gordon, who came to Harvard 4 years ago "ready to build" and became Harvard's most highly paid employee in 2007, resigned today from his position as the Chief Operating Officer for the Allston Development Group.

But in a resolution that strikes me as somewhat ironic, Chris will actually be spending more time in Allston in after he leaves his office in Cambridge's Holyoke Center where he, from a distance, oversaw Harvard's Allston planning and construction. His new job at Harvard will be teaching courses in real estate development at the Harvard Business School, which is located (of course) in Allston.

Leader in Harvard's Allston planning to step down - Local News Updates - MetroDesk - The Boston Globe

Harvard meeting tonight

There is a meeting tonight from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Honan-Allston Library with Harvard and the BRA, in case anyone is interested in what the future of our neighborhood might be.

Harvard University will provide an update on its activities in the North Allston area including: improvements to its existing properties, leasing efforts, community engagement and community benefits. Also, the university will discuss its plans for the interim conditions at the Science Complex and its efforts to find a successful approach to developing the property; the role of the university’s Work Team that is assessing the future needs of the university; the appointment of Bill Purcell as special advisor on Allston. Mr. Purcell will be attending this meeting.

Apartements proposed for Market/N Beacon

It will be interesting to see the design for this project. The squat, ugly building on the corner of Market & N. Beacon, surrounded with asphalt parking along the sidewalk, unfortunately limits the potential for this intersection. In any case, some nicely done housing and retail would be a big change from the Grossman's.
But as I've said before, it is hard to evaluate these ad hoc proposals, especially with other parcels nearby (like the gas station and UHaul across the street) that also seem like likely site for development in the near future. Contemplating the uses, design, and goals for this area would be a lot easier to do in a proactive and holistic manner instead of one development at a time.

Mixed-use project proposed for Brighton - Boston Business Journal
Brighton-based Hera Development has submitted plans to the BRA to replace the Grossman’s Bargain Outlet and Vocational Action Center with 20,400 square feet of commercial space; 122 apartments comprising 148,000 square feet; a 4,700-square-foot day care center; and 219 “below-level” parking spaces.
Recent local projects by Hera include: