"Members said that the BRA has underrepresented the community and left them lost about whom to turn to for community support.
“It’s always been to me about how businesses, institutions, and the city can work together to make a better neighborhood,” Houghton said. “I don’t have any convincing feel that this process does that at all.”
Ray Mellone, chair of the task force, echoed Houghton’s sentiments.
“I cannot see how we can do our job of reporting to the community without any control over the situation,” Mellone said.
“We want to be responsible corporate citizens, and that’s what drove us to invest, but the returns are also quite good considering the risk,’’ said Axel Martinez, an assistant treasurer for Google. “Charlesview is one of the places where we were able to add value, when in the past projects like that wouldn’t have gotten done.’’
MassHousing is providing a series of loans for the Charlesview project, along with $72 million in financing from Harvard University and the $28 million from Google, which stepped up its investments in low-income housing in 2010, when the prices of tax credits were between 60 and 70 cents on the dollar."
Allston neighbors worried that their concerns would be steamrolled as Harvard University announced plans to jumpstart its campus expansion yesterday, but others were happy to hear that work on the $1 billion health and life science center and other projects was getting started again."
Harvard schedules construction on Allston campus - The Boston Globe:
Harvard officials did not disclose any details about the cost, size, or scope of the project at Barry’s Corner, apparently sensitive that discussing any such components would trump the public process and upset neighbors.
Allston resident Harry Mattison said he is concerned the development will house too many graduate students and not enough families, young professionals, and older residents.
“Is this going to be about making a neighborhood for all walks of life, or is it 150 beds for men and women in their early 20s who have a better idea of what’s fun to do at 2 in the morning,’’ Mattison said. “We want a real sense of place where there’s activity so people will say on a Sunday, ‘Let’s go down to Barry’s Corner and walk around for awhile.’ ’’
Harvard has said only that the complex will include rental housing for “Harvard graduate students, visiting scholars, faculty members, and others’’ and that it will be combined with “retail facilities and amenities’’ for the neighborhood.
"...But Allston residents say these initiatives are not enough. They complain that direct communication with Harvard has never existed, even before McCluskey’s departure, and they criticize the University for not working side-by-side with community members."
During the BRA's comment period for this project that ended last week, comment letters were submitted that were generally supportive of the project and at the same time suggested how the project could be improved, how Harvard could mitigate the project's impacts and make good on past promises, and requested reasonable information about its impacts. See page 2 in this document for a letter from the Charles River Watershed Association, page 5 for one from Cathi Campbell on behalf of the State-appointed Citizens Advisory Committee, page 16 for one by John McQueen, and page 20 for one from the Allston neighbors who serve on the Harvard Allston Task Force.
Harvard, in this letter, responded to some questions that various public agencies asked about the project. However, the letters mentioned above got no response, just this:
"In addition, at the close of the public comment period the BRA received several commentWhat's the point of asking for public comments if Harvard chooses not to respond to them and the BRA doesn't do anything about it?
letters, including one from the Harvard‐Allston Task Force. These letters included a number of
suggested mitigation measures and community benefits and these letters are currently being
reviewed by the Harvard team."
Now that the brightest of the brightest (Harvard's Allston Work Team) have had their say, how much more research is needed? Will the University undertake significant construction in Allston in the near future? Or is now just not the right time, financially, for the University to commit to further building?
It has been nearly three years since the demise of the original Science Complex plan. What is the future of Allston?
"Carrying plastic bags stuffed with produce, a shopper at the Harvard Allston Farmers’ Market reflected on the state of the University-created outdoor market: “They’re starting to lose people out there, aren’t they?”
Local farmers and community members have echoed this shopper’s off-hand remark.
They say that unlike the bustling Harvard Farmers’ Market outside the Science Center, the Allston market—envisioned as part of the University’s outreach into the Allston community—has had trouble attracting customers and vendors."