All the buzzwords, None of the benefit or vision

Harvard - Allston Campus - Page 47 -

"This IMP hits all the fancy buzzwords including but not limited to "greenway" and yet there's absolutely no vision (the massing and future layout of Barry's Corner is completely bungled) and no clear benefit for Harvard either. This IMP strikes me as a fancy placeholder so that they can continue to landbank here (with a planning horizon counting in centuries, not years)."

Harvard Science Complex in the 10 year plan

Harvard hasn't announced the new design for the Western Ave Science Complex that is possibly re-starting construction for next year. But it is interesting to see how it is shown in Harvard's Master Plan and how different it is than the previous design.

Science Complex in the 10-year plan of Harvard's new plan
Looks like 2 buildings with most of its greenspace along the SwissBakers parking lot
Harvard IMP - page 13

2007 Physical Model of the Science Complex - 4 buildings with a courtyard

2007 first floor plan

Smith Field in Harvard's 10 year plan

There's been a lot of talk about making big changes to Smith Field. It is interesting how Harvard shows Smith Field in this 3D rendering of its 10 year plan. Looks like a Little League field, two softball fields, a baseball diamond, and a basketball court. Ten years from now I sure hope Smith Field has a lot more diversity of facilities than that.
Harvard IMP - page 13

Harvard's 5 year plan & importance of interim uses

Harvard's IMP shows many 3D renderings of what its campus and Barry's Corner might look like in 10 years, but there are no such renderings showing what things will look like for the next 5+ years. And 5 years is quite a while.

So I've color coded the map on page 101 of Harvard's Master Plan with the phasing information on page 112.

The takeaway is that Harvard's 4 IMP projects between now and 2018 are relatively small interior projects at Harvard Athletics and HBS. It isn't until 2020 that we might see new construction in Barry's Corner that could enliven this area.

If it is going to be 6+ years before these buildings begin construction, it becomes all the more important to ask what will happen on these sites in the meantime to contribute to a strong and vibrant community.

What are the "BTD Bike Plan Elements"?

This is an interesting image from Harvard's IMP. It makes it look like there are a great many transportation improvements coming to most all the major roads in our neighborhood.
Harvard IMP page 183
But can this be true? What could BTD (the Boston Transportation Department) have planned for "bike plan elements" on narrow, high-speed Lincoln Street? If the overhead wires were buried, the utility poles removed, and the road widened towards the Mass Pike to create space for physically seperated bike lanes that would be a great improvement. That would also be a multi-million dollar project that I haven't heard seriously discussed. If the plan it just to paint "sharrows" in the existing lanes then that really isn't going to accomplish much.

The spaces between those Harvard buildings

A recent NY Times op-ed noted:
The Bloomberg administration has certainly not been tone deaf to place-making during the last dozen years, transforming many city parks, waterfronts and plazas, and embracing sustainable design. But its plan for East Midtown fails to recognize a fundamental paradigm shift. The focus in designing cities has now turned from buildings to the spaces between those buildings — sidewalks, plazas, parks — whose disposition requires planning.
Harvard concurs in its IMP:
Successful plazas support a wide variety of activities including temporary markets, art installations, or performances
But the IMP has precious few specifics about how this might happen. The word "sculpture" is nowhere to be found. The word "art" is barely mentioned. In the 6 pages dedicated to the Charlesview Grove, there is no mention of a budget. Plans to install art do not exist. Instead, Harvard offers this:
"During the period in which the former Charlesview Apartments undergo demolition, to
the extent consistent with health and safety, Harvard will make portions of the grove fully
accessible to the public, with provision for internal walkways and seating areas." (page 124)
 Harvard's "gateway" building isn't planned until 2020 at the earliest. Here is what Harvard proposes the area will look like until then. It will be nice to have the existing chain link fence removed, but this seems to fall far short of the award-winning public space that it could be.

Harvard ignores the traffic created by a 3,000 seat arena

Harvard wants to build a 3,000 seat basketball arena right near the intersection of Western Ave & North Harvard Street. This intersection is already frequently congested and difficult for drivers and pedestrians.

Harvard has decided, that because heavy use of the facility may not occur during the "typical morning or evening peak hours" that it can therefore pretend that this 3,000 seat arena will have no traffic impact at all. 

Of course Harvard rents its athletic facilities to many non-Harvard organizations, and things change about when and how Harvard facilities are used. It wasn't that long ago that Harvard Stadium was used only during the day.

It is fine if Harvard wants to build a grand and glorious basketball arena and rent it to private teams, organizations, and events. But Harvard could also admit that this will bring new traffic into our community and that merits study and roadway improvements.
Harvard IMP page 185
By the way, what is "the University's event management strategy"? Is that strategy what causes situations like this?

Can Harvard students not cross North Harvard Street safely?

The Allston/Brighton community and the BRA have both asked why a new Harvard basketball arena is the best use of land in Barry's Corner. It the "site selection rationale" of its Master Plan, it is interesting that Harvard describes North Harvard Street as a busy and dangerous street that poses a grave safety risk.
Harvard Master Plan, page 136
I have crossed North Harvard Street countless times, pushing infants in strollers, with young children riding bikes, in bad weather, and more. It would be nice to have a crosswalk with walk signal at the Honan Library (as an alternative to the one at the one at Easton Street). But when compared to Western Ave, Cambridge Street, and the other major roads in our community, crossing North Harvard feels relatively easy and safe. I doubt that Harvard students, who have to cross many busier roads (like Memorial Drive) on their walk from Cambridge to Allston, would have a safety problem getting across North Harvard Street.

Harvard's Charlesview Parking Lot

The site of the current Charlesview Apartments is one of the most prominent gateway locations of our neighborhood. It is a shame that Harvard wants to put a big surface parking lot there.

Also, the building shown in the left side of the images below (Harvard calls it the "Gateway project") is not scheduled to be built until 2020 at the earliest. There seems to be no proposal for how these ~8 acres will enrich the community and Barry's Corner for the next 6+ years.

This is not a new concern. Here is what the Task Force wrote 8 months ago:
Harvard Allston Task Force comment (Nov 19, 2012) - Harvard Parking Lot on the site of the current Charlesview housing - This proposed use shown on page 35 of the IMPNF is completely unacceptable. A large surface parking lot in this strategic and highly-visible site is completely contrary to our vision for North Allston. We strongly oppose Barry’s Corner being the backside of Harvard’s campus where undesirable uses are dumped.
Harvard has suggested that this site could also be used for construction activities such as material storage, staging, and parking. We disagree with this proposal, especially considering the pending vacancy of the CSX and Romar sites which would give Harvard other nearby options for parking and construction activities.

And here is Harvard's proposal. It is quite deceiving for the parking lot to be drawn in light gray in two of the drawings which does not make it look like asphalt. The 3D view shown on top was drawn by Harvard's consultants so that it only shows 1/2 of the parking lot.

The text in Harvard's "Parking" section of the IMP (which gets just 1/2 page in a 294 page document) says the following:

The location of the parking lots and garages seeks to minimize impacts on adjacent streets
by taking advantage of new streets such as “Academic Way” and “South Campus Drive”
to divert traffic away from Barry’s Corner. The parking facilities and their driveways will be
integrated into the network of pedestrian paths in the Ten-Year Plan to minimize pedestrian
and vehicular conflicts and to provide suitable connections to the new and existing
institutional uses.

How does this make any sense? These parking lots exit onto North Harvard Street and Academic Way. The cars that use the Academic Way exit will then have to exit onto Western Ave. So how does this minimize impact on adjacent streets? Visually, a single row of trees along North Harvard Street doesn't minimize much of anything. What does it mean to integrate parking lots and driveways into "the network of pedestrian paths in the Ten-Year Plan to minimize pedestrian and vehicular conflicts"?

Meet the Mayoral Candidates: How would you ease apartment overcrowding?

Meet the Mayoral Candidates: How would you ease apartment overcrowding? - Boston.comment -

"This week, we asked Boston's mayoral candidates what they would do to ease overcrowding in neighborhoods like Allston. Here are their answers. Add your thoughts to the comments or tweet at the hashtag #BosMayor."

Ward 21 Democratic Committee Endorses Michael Ross for Mayor

First Ward Committee to Endorse in Mayoral Race Boston

The Ward 21 Democratic Committee officially endorsed Councilor Mike Ross for Mayor on Thursday. The committee, made up of Democratic activists from parts of the Allston, Brighton, and Fenway neighborhoods, cited Ross’ innovative ideas as key to the endorsement.

“Councilor Ross stood out in a field of several qualified candidates as the one most able to use innovative ideas to create jobs, improve our schools, and modernize government,” said Lauren Mattison, the Committee Chair. “We’re excited to spend the rest of this campaign making phone calls, knocking on doors, and telling people why Mike Ross is the best candidate for Mayor.”

Nine of the 12 candidates for Mayor filled out the Committee’s questionnaire, which addressed topics such as education, housing, institutional expansion, open space, and transportation. Those candidates, including Charlotte Golar Richie, John Connolly, and Bill Walczak spoke to the community before the Committee vote on Thursday. In the end, Councilor Ross received more than enough votes to qualify for an endorsement. 

“I’m honored to have the support of the Ward 21 Committee, and I look forward to working with them in the months ahead. Grassroots support will be key to this campaign, and I’m happy that my desire to bring new ideas to city hall is resonating,” said Ross.

Learn more about the candidates from the Ward 21 Democratic Committee

In June 2013, the Ward 21 Democratic Committee sent questionnaires to all candidates for mayor, city council at-large, and the city council seats in Districts 8 and 9. They asked campaigns to return the questionnaires by July 8. Use the link below to see the responses received as of July 9. They will post any additional responses as they receive them.

John Connolly for Mayor Allston-Brighton Neighborhood Party - Thursday, July 25th

With all this summer heat I know it can be hard to think ahead to Boston's election for Mayor this summer. But now is a great time to get to know the candidates and show them how much we care about making Allston and Brighton and all of Boston a better place to live!

I have known John Connolly for several years and have consistently been impressed by his involvement in the Allston and Brighton community. He is now a leading contender in a crowded field of candidates running to be our next Mayor, and we need a Mayor who understands our neighborhood and who will work hard to improve our quality of life.

Please join John for an Allston-Brighton Neighborhood Party on Thursday, July 25th at 6:30 PM at Devlin's (332 Washington St in Brighton Center). Whether you are already supporting John, considering who to support, or just starting to think about our next Mayor, I hope you will join us to learn more about John and his vision and experience.

You can also learn more about John at:

Meet Candidates for Mayor and City Council At-Large

The Boston Ward 21 Democratic Committee invites you to meet with candidates for mayor and city council at-large:

Candidates Nights
Monday, July 15 and Thursday, July 18
At West End House Boys & Girls Club
105 Allston Street, Allston (

More details and a list of scheduled candidates will be posted at when the events get closer.