Interview with Senator Barrios

Interview with Senator Jarrett Barrios, part 1 and part 2

Interview Senator Jarrett Barrios - Six Questions
See an original and genuine interview with our state senator. Hear him talk about his favorite place to travel, his favorite type of music, what happiness means to him, what community means to him, the one thing about the world he would change, and one thing about himself he would change.

Harvard in talks to acquire empty Lincoln Street warehouse

Globe, Newspaper Guild agree on contract proposal - The Boston Globe: "Harvard University is negotiating to buy the former Casey & Hayes warehouse building that has sat empty for years on Lincoln Street in Brighton. A purchase, for a price around $17 million, is expected soon."

More liquor licenses not merrier - The Boston Globe

More liquor licenses not merrier - The Boston Globe
Today's Globe has a letter to the editor that I wrote

"YOUR OCT. 22 editorial 'High and dry in Boston?' offers a one-sided view on the issue of increasing the number of liquor licenses in Boston. You are correct that having more licenses would make it easier for more business owners to make more money selling beer, wine, and liquor. But what would be the impact on the residents who would have these businesses as their new neighbors? Here in Allston and Brighton our quality of life is continually threatened by an ever-growing number of bars and restaurants whose patrons stroll drunk and loud through our neighborhoods at midnight, two in the morning, or later. If Boston wants more liquor licenses, it should first tell its citizens why we should be confident that our quality of life won't suffer while a small number of people profit."

how to connect Harvard's Cambridge & Allston campuses

how to connect Harvard's Cambridge & Allston campuses
This is an old discussion from the ne.transportation newsgroup but the ideas and opinions are still interesting to read

Where will Harvard construction workers park their cars?

We know that won't "pahk their cahrs in Hahvad Yahd", as the saying goes. So where will they park? Here is what the Science Complex PNF says:
The traffic-related construction mitigation measures to be specified in the CMP
- Providing off-street parking at market rates for construction workers. This measure is intended to avoid parking impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods while encouraging construction workers to commute by transit, carpool, or other non-automobile means.
Harvard owns acres of empty parking lots in Allston but they seem to want to make a few bucks by charging their contractors to park here! I don't know what "market rate" parking in North Allston is (10 or 20 bucks a day?) but it seems this will do exactly the opposite of what Harvard says they want to do. Won't the workers park for free on our neighborhood streets instead of paying to park in a Harvard lot?

More on Harvard's proposed Stadium Way

Harvard's proposal for a new street conntecting Cambridge St and Western Ave has been a recurring topic of interest at Task Force meetings. Here are the new roads proposed in the Science Complex PNF. There is the extension of Rena St, Stadium Way going from Cambridge St to Western Ave to N Harvard St, and the unnamed road from the Mass Pike off-ramp to Western Ave. The Mass Pike-Western Ave connector seems like it will be a great thing. This was in the April 24 Transportation presentation but I don't think we have heard about it since then (Harvard's October 11 transporation presentation still isn't on the BRA website).

The straightened Stadium Way that stays away from the Cambridge/Windom intersection is much better than what we were shown on Oct 11. The PNF doesn't give any information about this other than this one image, so we will have to wait for the IMP Amendment filing for more information. Regarding the two "temporary alignments", what does "temporary" mean? The northern temporary route must stay so long as Charlesview is in its current location, but what is the timetable for the one south of Rena St? Will large trucks be able to make the sharp turn from this curve in Stadium way onto Rena St?

Stadium Way is only 30 yards from the houses on Windom Street. What will protect these houses from the noise? Research shows that trees will not be an effective sound barrier in a situation like this so a barrier wall, earth berm, or an other solution will be needed.

Cameras Catch Speeding Britons and Lots of Grief

Cameras Catch Speeding Britons and Lots of Grief - New York Times
Boston has been trying for years to get permission from the State to install traffic enforcement cameras. Here is a view of their effect in the UK.

Project Notification Form for Harvard's Science Complex

Click here to download HARVARD’S ALLSTON SCIENCE COMPLEX. The file is 33 megabytes, so be prepared to wait.

Liquor and live music on Linden Street?

At the Oct 25 Allston Civic Association meeting, the owners of 20 Linden Street in Allston and one of Boston's top licensing lawyers came to ask for community support for a live entertainment license. Last year they got a liquor license (despite community opposition) and now they want a license allowing them to have parties, weddings, and other events with more than 200 people, liquor, and live music. From this article in the Globe, it sounds like a lot of good things are happening at 20 Linden.

But I can't see any reason the community should support huge loud parties that will go late at night on the edge of a residential neighborhood. Would anyone want to live across the street from this sort of activity? Especially after we learned from the Allston-Brighton police that they have had to come break up fights in the parking lot after previous events at this location.

Stay tuned... No vote was taken at this weeks's ACA meeting and it will be back on the agenda in a couple months.

High and dry in Boston?

High and dry in Boston? - The Boston Globe
This Globe editorial calls on the State Legislature to lift the cap on Boston's liquor licenses, which currently stands at 320 beer-and-wine licenses and 650 all-alcohol liquor licenses. I agree in theory that "the question of how many restaurants shouldsell liquor should be purely a matter of local concern" and "the Legislature shouldn't be involved in local liquor licensing at all. Boston should be able to issue as many licenses as city leaders -- and the voters who elect them -- see fit." But before supporting lifting this cap, I think Allston and Brighton residents, whose quality of life is perpetually threatened by an overabundance of establishments serving alcohol, we should ask the City how new licenses will be distributed. Will they go to anyone who wants one or to anyone who hires the "right" lawyer? How will the licensing board take into account the impact on the people who try to live here?

Building a Blue Allston presentations

On October 16 the Charles Watershed Association hosted a "Building a Blue Allston III" workshop. The presentations are online here. The presentations cover environmental initiatives in Allston and Brighton, elsewhere in the Boston area, and from cities across the country.

Gubernatorial candidates to square off in fourth debate tonight

Gubernatorial candidates to square off in fourth debate - The Boston Globe: "The four gubernatorial candidates will square off at 7 p.m. today in the fourth of five scheduled debates of the general election campaign. Tonight's hourlong debate among Republican Kerry Healey, independent Christy Mihos, Democrat Deval Patrick, and Green-Rainbow candidate Grace Ross will be televised live on CBS4 News and C-SPAN and also will be broadcast on WBZ-AM (1030) "

Harvard’s Invisible Victims

The Harvard Crimson :: Opinion :: Harvard’s Invisible Victims - A story about Harvard students protesting the firing of a shuttle bus driver writen by members of Harvard's Student Labor Action Movement...
Harvard claims to adhere to a basic framework of values in its labor practices. But these are poorly defined and all too nebulous. They include the intangible commitment to “honesty and integrity in all dealings,” and an obligatory “respect for the rights, differences, and dignity of others.”
Harvard’s administration and its students have already acknowledged responsibility for the impact of our consumption, investment, and contracting policies. From fair trade to divestment, from a living wage to a sustainable Allston, there is a tradition and a belief that Harvard should not allow financial strategies to undermine human rights or basic dignity. As interim University President Derek C. Bok himself noted just last week at a student forum, “Universities are simply not a business. Their central focus is not profit and loss.”
Harvard's consumption of Allston certainly is having an impact!

Details of the Harvard-Agassiz agreement

From Harvard Magaizine - Agassiz Agreement
...the relationship that Harvard has nurtured with the Agassiz neighborhood is one that the University values. How much? In addition to the mitigation measures and construction of amenities for the neighborhood (pedestrian pathways, landscaping, and enhanced lighting, for example) that will continue throughout the buildout of the area, Harvard has agreed to establish and fund a science-education initiative in the Cambridge public schools worth about $1.5 million. In addition, Harvard will contribute about $1 million to fund recreational programs for Cambridge residents. The $2.5 million total in benefits is tied specifically to phase one, the three FAS buildings, which will entail 670,000 square feet of space above and below grade
The first 3 projects in Allston total approx. 615,000 sq ft (Science Center - 500,000, Art Museum - 90,000, Arts & Culture Space - 25,000), very similar to the 670,000 of building in the Agassiz case

226 Harvard Ave - Back to the Drawing Board?

Over the summer, this project was proposed to create 10,000 square feet of retail space at street level and 10,000 square feet of office space. A lack of parking was considered by many to be a major shortcoming of the project. now says only "coming soon". Comparing that to the website from August (click here for Google's cached version) shows that maybe the project is being reconsidered.

Jerry McDermott's Voter ID Proposal Could Deny Vote to Thousands of Citizens

Boston Voter ID Proposal Could Deny Vote to Thousands of Citizens ...: "The right to vote could be denied to thousands of eligible voters in Boston if the city adopts voter ID requirements in response to a proposal this week by City Councilor Jerry McDermott. Stuart Comstock-Gay, executive director of the National Voting Rights Institute (NVRI), a non- partisan voting rights organization in Boston, issued this statement today in response..."

Moran campaign event

State Rep Michael Moran is having a pre-election party at the Stockyard in
Brighton from 6-8pm on Oct 25th.

Harvard development in Cambridge

These articles are a bit old, but interesting nonetheless about how Harvard and Cambridge neighborhoods work together as Harvard grows on their side of the river
Development to Begin in Bordering Neighborhoods
Neighborhood Vows Flexibility
North Precinct Plans
All Quiet on the Cambridge Front

Agassiz Neighborhood Council - Harvard Development

Agassiz Neighborhood Council - ACID-Harvard Development
This neighborhood in Cambridge has been home to some large recent developments by Harvard. This site has links to documents about community benefits and other aspects of the University-Community relationship.

Upcoming events - Local News: Community notes

The Mayor's Office of New Bostonians announces the Allston/Brighton Newcomers Fair taking place Saturday, Oct. 21, noon to 3 p.m., at Jackson Mann Community Center, 500 Cambridge, St., Allston.

A public meeting concerning the master plans of Boston College and St. E's Hospital will take place Wednesday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Elks Lodge, 326 Washington St., Brighton Center.

Hill Memorial Baptist Church, 279 North Harvard St., Allston, announces its annual fair Saturday, Oct. 28, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Parents and Community Build Group Inc. and the Ringer Park Partnership Group are sponsoring a park cleanup at Ringer Park in Allston on Saturday, Oct. 28, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Bill Littlefield, host of the National Public Radio show "Only a Game," is the keynote speaker at the seventh annual "Washington Allston Birthday Breakfast" Tuesday, Oct. 31, at the Spangler Center, Harvard Business School, 117 Western Ave., Allston, at 7:30 a.m.

McDermott pushes for ID’ing at polls - Local Politics: Pol pushes for ID'ing at polls: "Two weeks before Election Day, a Boston city councilor says it's time for voters to start flashing identification at Hub polls.
"I think we should have ID checks to maintain the integrity," said Allston-Brighton City Councilor Jerry P. McDermott.
McDermott said he plans to ask the City Council this week to hold a hearing with city and state election officials about what is being done to ensure that only legal citizens vote at Hub polling places.
Under federal law, poll workers are authorized to ask voters for identification only if it's their first time voting and they didn't already present ID when they registered to vote. No Bay State municipality has local rules requiring poll workers ask for ID when they show up to vote, said Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin."
Across the country people are discussing the pros and cons of requiring people to present ID in order to vote. Here are some thoughts on the issue:

The Century Foundation: there is no reason for states to go beyond the Help American Vote Act's narrow provisions regarding the presentation of identification in order to vote.
National Voting Rights Institute: The "Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006" (H.R. 4844), sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), would require all voters to obtain and show government-issued photo ID proving their citizenship before they could vote. In the vast majority of states, drivers’ licenses do not currently require proof of citizenship and thus would not meet the ID requirements of H.R. 4844. So what this would mean in practice is that voters who do not bring to the polls a photo ID that verifies their citizenship – such as a passport – could not vote.
Mo. High Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law: The Missouri Supreme Court struck down the state's new voter identification law Monday that would have required voters to show a photo ID card at the polls starting this fall.

Allston and Brighton, which are represented by McDermott perennially have the lowest voter turnout in Boston. This would be a natural position from which to make it easier for more people to vote instead of creating new rules to make it harder without proof that these new rules are needed.

Woman jogger groped on Brighton road - Local & Regional: Woman jogger groped on Brighton road: "State police say a 19-year-old woman was sexually assaulted yesterday while on a jogging path next to Beacon Street near Chestnut Hill Drive in Brighton.

The woman was on the path at 12:15 p.m. when she was groped by a man on a mountain bike.

Police are looking for a clean-shaven white male with a pale complexion. He is about 5-feet-10-inches tall and was wearing green cargo pants, a black hooded sweatshirt, navy knit hat and sunglasses."

Lowell chief set to lead Boston police

Lowell chief set to lead Boston police - The Boston Globe
"Mayor Thomas M. Menino is poised to name longtime Lowell Police Superintendent Edward Davis, a strong proponent of community policing, as the next police commissioner of Boston, two advisers connected to City Hall said yesterday.
Davis, who engineered a drop in violent crime of more than 50 percent in Lowell over the past dozen years by pushing officers to walk beats, received the offer over the weekend
In an interview with a Globe reporter in July, he summed up part of his philosophy and strategy: 'Criminals get comfortable. We took that away by being highly visible on the street and cracking down on the small things. It was interesting to see how the number of felonies would go down in a neighborhood where we ticketed more for moving violations.'"

A debate to our south

‘Sexy projects’ - News - The Phoenix
Brookline votes on the CPA next month. A few years ago the CPA was on the ballot in Boston and was defeated.
"In Brookline, the biggest battle centers on the ballot initiative to pass the Community Preservation Act (CPA), which would levy a three percent surcharge on property taxes to fund investments in open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing. All worthy objectives to pursue, right? "

Roads in Union Square lead to . . . a tight merge and gridlock

More about traffic tie-ups and poor roadway design in Allston from Ray Swartz's letter to the Globe

Roads in Union Square lead to . . . a tight merge and gridlock - The Boston Globe: "Gridlock is usually caused by the selfish actions of drivers who do not obey the law regarding red lights. Nothing is ever done about this, because there is no traffic enforcement in my neighborhood, Allston-Brighton.
But there is another kind of gridlock caused by the City of Boston. I am referring to intersections where two lanes of traffic are required to merge in the middle of the intersection. You would think it obvious that intersections should not be designed this way, but consider the busy intersection at Union Square, Allston, where Cambridge Street, Brighton Avenue, and North Beacon come together."

New Link Makes Road to Cape Cod Clear Sailing

New Link Makes Road to Cape Cod Clear Sailing - New York Times: "the Sagamore Rotary — a complicated traffic circle that drivers had to navigate to pass over the Sagamore Bridge and onto Cape Cod — became history on Friday when the four-lane road that goes right to the bridge opened to traffic from all directions. Up to 90,000 cars pass through the rotary on a busy summer day, officials said."
It is great that the State is making major transportation improvements. I wonder how many cars annually drive through some of the places in Allston that border on gridlock and I hope there will be serious attention paid to improving them. The horror show that is the intersection of the Mass Pike off-ramp, Cambridge Street, Soldiers Field Road, and River Street Bridge only seems to get worse and worse. Hopefully it won't be too many years before it gets the major reconstruction and re-design that it deserves.

Portsmouth Playground to become more playable - Local News: Playground to become more playable: "
Small changes that could have big impacts to the usability of Portsmouth Playground are in the works. By 2007, a more user-friendly and safe park will be open."

New Harvard Student Center in Cambridge (the Allston version is still a few years away)

The Harvard Crimson :: News :: New Face of Hilles, Artsy Café, Debuts
Despite speculation about future plans to move some undergraduate housing from the Quad to Allston, College administrators said that SOCH (Student Organization Center at Hilles) will be used by undergraduates for many years to come.

Kidd said that any move of undergraduate housing to Allston, if it were to occur, would be “at least 10 years away.”

Diocese to sell Lady of the Presentation School in Brighton to community group

Diocese to sell school to community group - The Boston Globe: "The Archdiocese of Boston agreed yesterday to sell the former Our Lady of the Presentation School in Brighton to a nonsectarian citizens' group, ending one of the bitterest disputes between the church and a local community that arose from widespread closings of parishes and schools over the past three years.

In an effort to rebuild its tattered relations with the community, the archdiocese put the sales price at $1 million, half the $2 million the citizens group had offered for the school building. The group, the nonprofit Presentation School Foundation, plans to operate an affordable preschool, after-school programs, summer camps, and adult education programs at the site in partnership with the YMCA and the Boston Public Library.

The chairman of the foundation stressed yesterday that the school building needs more than $2 million in repairs and that $4 million will have to be raised to launch the envisioned program fully. That is not expected before 2008.

Church hands over former Brighton school to local nonprofit

Local News Updates - Church hands over former Brighton school to local nonprofit -The Boston Globe
"A former Catholic school in Brighton that became a flash point during the closing of churches and schools was handed over to a neighborhood nonprofit today to be used as a community-based educational facility.
The Archdiocese of Boston gave the former Our Lady of the Presentation School to local activists after a bitter struggle between community and church. The nonprofit has agreed not to operate the property in Oak Square as an elementary school, and the church sold them the building for $1 million -- half what the local residents had offered to pay."

Candiates for Governor Debate Tonight

Debate tonight - The Boston Globe: "The four candidates for governor will meet tonight for a televised debate at Boston's Faneuil Hall. The debate at 7:00 will be broadcast live. A WHDH-TV-Suffolk University poll released last week suggested that Patrick has a 46 to 33 percent advantage over Healey. Independent Christy Mihos scored 7 percent in the latest poll. One percent supported Green-Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross."

I am surprised that almost 5 times as many people are supporting Healy than are supporting Mihos. His business background, straight style, and reform agenda I thought would have made him attractive to people less inclined to vote for a Democrat.

The future of the former Presentation School Building

WHAT: Major announcement regarding the future of the former Our Lady of the Presentation School Building

WHEN: Thursday, October 19, 2006 (rain or shine, tent provided)

TIME: 4:00PM

WHERE: Oak Square Common (Tremont and Washington Sts.), Brighton, MA

WHO: Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Mayor Thomas Menino, PSF Representatives, and members of the Allston-Brighton community

Look for an update here later today

Tollbooth politics

Tollbooth politics - The Boston Globe

State's needs, and the road to gas tax

I still don't understand why some roads are free and others are not? Why should we put more tolls on the Turnpike and raise the gas tax? Why does it cost $2 to drive from Allston to Waltham? And why is one state commission trying to add more tolls while the Turnpike is trying to (or at least talking about) eliminating them?

Photo puts a focus on City Council rift

Photo puts a focus on City Council rift - The Boston Globe: "It was the kind of measure the council routinely passes with a perfunctory tap of the gavel. But that didn't happen yesterday.
'I've had enough!' Councilor at Large Stephen Murphy snapped, waving a piece of paper at his colleagues."

"Team Unity", mentioned in this article, is an alliance of the minority members of the City Council (Yoon, Arroyo, Turner, and Yancey). Here are a few references:
Yoon gets endorsement from councilors of color
At-large city council candidate Sam Yoon got a boost this week with an endorsement from Team Unity, the political organization formed by incumbent councilors Felix Arroyo, Chuck Turner and Charles Yancey. Citing a desire to broaden the ethnic and political diversity on the council, the Team Unity members said they planned to share campaign resources with Yoon and urged their supporters for vote for him.

Arroyo, Yoon clinch 2nd, 3rd place spots on council ballot
"Team Unity is the new Boston. The new Boston is the Boston that has been invisible to so many people for so long."

Sam Yoon Gets the Horns
Days before the council was set to approve next year’s operating budget, Yoon circulated a document saying he and his Team Unity colleagues (Chuck Turner, Felix Arroyo and Charles Yancey) would torpedo the budget unless the city committed an additional $4 million to summer jobs and youth services.

A Talk with HBS Dean Light

New at the Helm: A Talk with HBS Dean Light — HBS Working Knowledge
"Q: While Harvard University searches for a new president, what is the status of planning for the future Allston campus?
A: I think the vision of the future Allston campus is pretty broadly shared in the University community, and there is considerable momentum to carry the process forward. Harvard is unique among the nation's urban universities in its ability to contemplate a development of this magnitude. I hope and trust Allston will stay on everybody's priority list."

Proposal To Eliminate Mass Pike Tolls - Proposal To Eliminate Mass Pike Tolls West Of 128
"The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board planned to vote Wednesday on a proposal to eliminate all tolls on the roadway west of Route 128 as a cost-saving measure and to satisfy drivers who have long complained the state promised to get rid of tolls years ago. The proposal was included in a report delivered by Eric Kriss, the state's former finance secretary. Kriss also recommended eliminating tolls from Route 128 east, with the exception of the airport tunnels, by Dec. 31, 2007, but that change would require lawmaker approval."

Boston wants State to lift liquor license cap

Liquor licensing spawns a clash of political wills - The Boston Globe: "Boston reached its 970-license limit in the spring of 2005. Before then, people seeking licenses could apply to the Boston Licensing Board for a new license, paying a $200 application fee and annual renewal fees of about $1,500-$2,000 .
Some acquired licenses by purchasing licensed restaurants, especially in neighborhoods such as the North End, where the city rarely or never granted new licenses. In those cases, beer and wine licenses typically made up $10,000-$50,000 of the cost of a restaurant, and all-alcohol licenses made up about $150,000-$200,000, industry observers said.
Now, the going rates for existing licenses are about $40,000 to $125,000 for a beer-and-wine license, depending on location, and about $225,000 to $325,000 for an all-alcohol license."
Where would the 55 new liquor licenses go? Please not in Allston!

State cracks down on toll discounts for ineligible drivers

State cracks down on toll discounts for ineligible drivers - The Boston Globe: "A monthlong review of 3,600 of 18,000 recipients of the discount has found that about 10 percent do not live in the neighborhoods eligible for the 40-cent tolls.
Without the discount, tolls for both tunnels are $3 for a one-way trip. The review will not affect Charlestown and Chelsea residents, who pay 30 cents, rather than the normal $3, to use the Tobin Bridge under a separate Massachusetts Port Authority plan."
A reminder about the inequity of Turnpike and other tolls for those of us paying the full $1 at the Allston/Brighton tolls, while others get steep discounts

Royal Street website -

Royal Street in Allston, MA 02134.
Here's another North Allston street with its own website. It is great to see pockets of the neighborhood using the web to get together. Are there other street websites?

Boston's $50 million worth of mistakes

$50 million worth of mistakes - News - The Phoenix: "This year, Boston taxpayers have already shelled out more than $7 million to pay for mistakes made by city employees. Unforutnately, this is not an anomaly. Mistakes by Boston city workers — especially the police — have cost the city more than $50 million over the past four years. "

Ecological group says conditions worsening

Ecological group says conditions worsening - The Boston Globe: "The environment in Massachusetts is getting worse, as the number of songbirds declines, commuters drive and pollute more, and communities use too much water, a new report says.
The Environmental League of Massachusetts, an advocacy group, is issuing its first State of the Environment report today, and it rates the state as 'poor' in 13 of 20 areas it evaluated, including environmental justice and marine fisheries."

City may banish TV dishes from view

City may banish TV dishes from view - The Boston Globe: "The Boston City Council, citing a proliferation of satellite television dishes across the city, is considering banning the devices from the front of buildings. Saying that the dishes are potentially dangerous and increasingly hard to overlook in parts of the city where some buildings are festooned with them, councilors plan to consider a measure to confine the satellite television receivers to the back of buildings, out of public view."

Smoke follows NSTAR electrical glitch on Brighton Ave

Smoke follows electrical glitch - The Boston Globe: "A piece of NStar equipment under Brighton Avenue malfunctioned at 9:15 a.m. yesterday, causing smoke to rise from manholes in the area, including on Linden Street. Anne Marie Walsh , an NStar representative, said most of the customers who lost power had service restored by noon. No injuries were reported ."

Everything You Need to Know About Bedbugs but Were Afraid to Ask

Everything You Need to Know About Bedbugs but Were Afraid to Ask - New York Times
This perennial problem in our neighborhood rears its head in New York. “This will be the pest of the 21st century — no question about it.”

We stand at a crossroads and Allston-Brighton will be the battleground that decides the direction of Boston’s neighborhoods

By choice but not by default

The City of Boston should turn its battleship of attention to this long-term threat [of universities' forever-deals that ensure institutional permanency but guarantee a loss of neighborhood identity]. Currently, Allston-Brighton teeters on the edge of consumption not from short-term thinking but from apparent lack of interest in the phenomenon.

“I really don’t know the city feels about this,” Theresa Hynes said. “I think that would be interesting, maybe from higher up in the city where policies are made.”

Now it’s time for the system to react. Endorse the college takeover of Allston-Brighton, or reject it, but do not let it happen by default, Boston.

Cheers to the Hooker Street Team
Thanks to the folks from Hooker Street who organized today's Hooker Street Hoedown block party. My son had fun bouncing in the moonwalk, the bands were great, and dozens of people were enjoying the scene.

More on Trucks and Turning

For more about what works and what doesn't work in roadway design, here are two references
California Dept of Transportation Highway Design ManualNational Cooperative Highway Research Program Review of Truck Characteristics as Factors in Roadway Design

This template shows the space needed for a truck to turn. The lines on the template delineate the path of the wheels and the body of the vehicle as the truck moves through the turn. These lines must clear any “obstacles” including curbs, islands, adjacent lanes, sign structures, traffic delineators, traffic signal and lighting poles, guardrails, trees and rock outcrops. The radius of the template is measured to the outside front wheel path through the curve. The 60-foot radius template is more conservative and is preferred. The 60-foot radius template requires less right of way on the inside of the curve, and it leaves a margin of error for the truck driver. The 60-foot radius template should be used for conditions where the vehicle may not be required to stop before entering the intersection.
When this template is put on a map of the Cambridge/Windom intersection, it is obvious that a truck could never make the right turn from Cambridge Street onto Windom without hitting the median strip and moving into traffic heading south on Windom.

Harvard's plan for a Windom Street bypass road

Last night Harvard presented details about their plans for a new road they expect to build parallel to Windom Street. This road would be the preferred method for drivers using the Mass Pike to get to the planned science center on Western Ave. It also seems likely to be heavily used by construction vehicles as the existing buildings on Western Ave are demolished and the new buildings are built.

Harvard thinks the road should look like
What is wrong with this picture from the Allston point of view?
Harvard owns the trucking yard where the CSX Corporation operates but Harvard is unable or unwilling to negotiate with their tenant to find a way to reshape the property line of the CSX site, so Harvard wants to thread the needle with their new road between the CSX lot and the home at 68 Hopedale Street. Cars and trucks will make more noise as they accelerate and decelerate going in and out of these turns than they would on a straight road.
At the Cambridge Street end of the road, the homes at 6, 8, and 10 Windom will bear the brunt of the traffic on this road. Noise and exhaust fumes await them as the cars and trucks drive past or sit idling waiting at the traffic light. The tight quarters here make it questionable how a 40 or 50 foot truck will be able to turn off Cambridge Street without obstructing traffic.
The red line showing the road is drawn to scale for a 30 foot wide road

Fortunately there are better options
A straight road made possible by an agreement with CSX and re-grading the slope (which is owned by Harvard) on the north side of Cambridge StreetOr a fork from the Mass Pike off-ramp (which is also on land owned by Harvard) that compelely avoids the Cambridge-Windom intersection

Next Harvard Allston Task Force meeting is October 23, 6:30 at the Honan Library

What is Harvard going to do at 224 Western Ave (the "Verizon" building)?

Back in April, Harvard proposed "to renovate the approximately 25,000 square foot former Verizon building at 224 Western Avenue in Barry’s Corner, adjacent to the Harvard Business School’s Teele Hall, to provide interim space for a variety of arts and culture initiatives. Harvard anticipates that the renovation will result in art studio/work spaces in addition to a number of flexible spaces that can serve as gallery, rehearsal, and small performance venues on an as-needed basis. The aim is to establish a near-term cultural presence in Barry’s Corner that will attract both Harvard affiliates and members of the local community, and to begin to build a constituency for more-permanent arts and culture facilities as part of Harvard’s future Allston development."

Since then we have not heard any details about this renovation while planning briskly progresses for the other two projects (science center and art museum).

Last night, Harvard's tranportation consultant minimized the traffic impact that 224 Western Ave would have, saying that it would be used for storage. When Harvard was asked to clarify this, they said, oh no it really will be actively used for art and cultural activities.

Harvard has a long history of proposing projects that do not get built (see page 6 of the April 2006 IMP Notification Form) and it would be too bad if this turns out to be another one.

Harvard science center - 60% less parking

At last night's Harvard Allston Task Force meeting we learned that Harvard is dramatically reducing the amount of underground parking planned for their science center that is planned to start construction in the spring.

On page 8 of the IMP Notification Form published in April 2006 it says:
"As currently envisioned, the proposed science complex will include an underground parking garage with spaces for approximately 1,300 vehicles. The science site’s close proximity to Harvard’s other near-term development parcels makes it an ideal location for a centralized parking facility that could serve not only the science complex, but also portions of the future Phase I campus development area. For this reason, the University would like to create underground parking as part of the first science complex in order to replace some of the existing surface lots and help to expedite the physical transformation of the area. As approximately 1,000 existing surface parking spaces at the science site (most associated with either the soon-to-be-relocated WGBH uses or the former Pepsi facility) will be displaced by the proposed project, a majority of the proposed garage spaces will represent a replacement of the existing surface spaces."

But last night we were told that Harvard has changed its plans by 800 spaces so they currently expect to have 500, not 1300, parking spaces in this location.

Boston Tech Center sale to Eastern Development off

Boston Tech Center sale to Eastern Development off - Boston Business Journal:

"It's one of the most unwanted buildings in Boston.
The Boston Tech Center is again without a purpose following Eastern Development LLC's unsuccessful attempt to buy the property.

Up for sale since February and empty since 2001, the building stands among several smaller, commercial buildings in a primarily residential neighborhood overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike. Harvard University owns the retail plaza called Brighton Mills Shopping Plaza directly behind the 450,000-square-foot Boston Tech Center.
'We decided not to move forward on the asset,' said Dan Doherty, a principal at Eastern."

Towns urge crackdown on housing law violators

Towns urge crackdown on housing law violators - The Boston Globe: "Communities in Massachusetts are pushing for a crackdown on developers who exploit the state's affordable housing law, following a report by the inspector general's office that the law has become a 'pigfest' for certain developers.

Senator Brian A. Joyce, a Milton Democrat, and Representative Kevin G. Honan, a Brighton Democrat, have asked the four state agencies that provide financing to the developments to explain what they are doing to enforce the law's profit cap. Joyce said legislation may be introduced after Sullivan releases his full report.

Race for the State House

For some parts of Allston and Brighton, there is a race for State Rep this fall.

Mike Moran is the incumbent and Democrat -

Russell Evans is the Republican challenger -

Enhancing Science and Engineering at Harvard

Enhancing Science and Engineering at Harvard The Preliminary Report from the University Planning Committee for Science and Engineering

Here are some Allston-related excerpts:

Recommendation #6: Establish Allston as an interdisciplinary science and engineering research, education, and cultural center that helps the surrounding communities and the world at large.

The Allston campus can influence the University and community at large through multidisciplinary research, education, and cultural activities. Allston should bring together faculty spanning a range of disciplines in the sciences and engineering, from biology and medicine to chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering. Together they could tackle basic and applied problems at the interface of the life sciences, medicine, physical sciences, and engineering.
The UPCSE vision for Allston includes three linked components:
1) Integrating elements of biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics to uncover the fundamental principles that explain how cells integrate a myriad of internal and external signals to survive and reproduce in variable environments, understand how these principles explain evolutionary plasticity, and exploit them to manipulate cells for research and medicine;
2) Bringing biology and medicine together to develop the new field of regenerative biology and tackle infectious diseases; and
3) Establishing a strong capability in multidisciplinary and computational analysis, in particular addressing our current weakness in research computing.
We recommend that a critical mass of collaborative science be located in Allston to fulfill the vision. This could include the Harvard School of Public Health, Regenerative Biology and Medicine, the Harvard Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering (HIBIE), Microbial Sciences, Systems Biology, Chemical and Physical Biology, Innovative Computing, and significant portions of Quantitative Analysis. While professional school faculty have teaching responsibility in their schools, we recommend that all Harvard faculty members located in Allston would have a firm commitment to the University’s teaching mission.
In addition to strengthening interdisciplinary science and engineering research at Harvard, Allston should provide a cultural and educational gateway to the community. We recommend a major effort in community outreach and education in Allston, including relocating the Harvard science museum complex and the Graduate School of Education (GSE) to Allston and establishing a Harvard Science Outreach group to coordinate educational efforts.
Allston also represents an extraordinary opportunity to improve the living arrangements and support for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty. The creation of living quarters and daycare facilities would enhance careers in science and engineering and provide a valuable framework of child care and support.

We foresee two costs of establishing a critical mass of intellectual activity in Allston: 1) Onetime capital construction costs, much of which can be debt-financed, and 2) ongoing operatin costs of essentially indefinite duration. In calculating these running costs, the University must take into account the true cost of adding more faculty, such as additional graduate student and administrative support. We present below a framework for estimating the full costs of a major expansion.

The first building in Allston be occupied in 2009.

Allston represents a rare opportunity to bring together multi-disciplinary activities, across the life and physical, as well as social, sciences. Such efforts will not only include some of the most exciting science and engineering, but will often focus on topics that have potential to influence community and world at large. The creation of a new campus offers the chance to build a community dedicated to teaching and research and to encourage a campus-wide commitment to interactions both within the campus and between it and other campuses that are stronger than the institution’s historical norm. In addition to exciting research, there exists an opportunity to use these groups of scholars to enhance and reform science and engineering education at all levels, including pre-collegiate. Similar to the opportunities in broadening Harvard’s research and education mission, Allston provides a unique cultural and educational gateway to a wider community.

First Wave of Buildings in Allston
Creating a critical mass of intellectual activity is essential for science and engineering initiatives in Allston to be successful. While the first science building for Allston has now been approved and will be occupied in 2009-2010, it is highly likely that the range and mix of activities we recommend will require a second science building of comparable size. Further, the HSPH will require an additional building of comparable footprint and assignable square feet. We strongly recommend that a three-building complex be planned as a coherent cluster and implemented as part of the first wave for Allston.

We recommend a major effort in community outreach and education in Allston, including relocating the Harvard science museum complex and the Graduate School of Education (GSE) to Allston and establishing a Harvard Science Outreach group to coordinate educational efforts. A team of area-specific coordinators under a program director should be created to work with the GSE and local schools to develop science curricula that can be tested with local schools and the Crimson Summer Academy. This would require a strategic shift in the GSE’s faculty and curriculum since the GSE has not traditionally focused on science and engineering education at the elementary school levels. K-12 education efforts in Allston could include science fair days and exposing Boston-area secondary school students from under-privileged areas to modern science. Building on local successes, Harvard should aspire to shape U.S. science education more broadly. The University should explore collaborations with interested parties including the Museum of Science, the public school systems of Boston, Cambridge, and nearby communities, and other groups interested in K-12 science education.
As Allston science and engineering facilities have not yet been built, it also represents an extraordinary opportunity for Harvard to improve the living arrangements and support for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty. The creation of living quarters and day care facilities would enhance careers in science and engineering and provide a valuable framework of support.

As the University strives to establish a vibrant community in Allston, we note the merits of building office space that could be leased to commercial, scientific, and technical clients. This would help cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in Allston, and would provide near-term cash flow as Harvard builds its Allston presence.

Allston’s success will depend heavily on how well Harvard’s activities interact with the cultural, educational, and business concerns of the Boston area. Links to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in the area, connections with Boston area museums, and work with Boston-based K-12 schools will all strengthen the intellectual community that can be built in Allston. Creative approaches should be explored to develop joint ventures and collaborations. Similarly, strong connections with HBS, KSG, and HLS should emphasize the financial, business, political, and legal implications of the research conducted at Harvard and will help scientists and engineers understand their roles in the wider world.

We think that the intellectual excitement of new science, the expansion of science capacity in Cambridge and Longwood and the development of the Allston campus will generate philanthropic giving opportunities. The physical plant and program costs of new faculty will be unsustainable without unprecedented giving. Although plans for a University-wide capital campaign have been put on hold during the current leadership transition, new research, new faculty, new facilities and innovation and leadership in emerging areas of scientific inquiry will challenge alumni and friends of the University on a scale which we have not yet seen.

Harvard Science Plans Face Faculty Criticism

The Harvard Crimson :: News :: University Science Plans Face Faculty Criticism: "A handful of professors yesterday ripped into a proposal for modernizing science research and instruction at Harvard, betraying a lingering hesitance among the Faculty to submit to greater central governance.

At a town-hall meeting for members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), professors questioned some of a University-wide committee’s recommendations—particularly the establishment of a central body empowered to make appointments across the University. Several Faculty members also criticized the report for focusing too much on the life sciences, too little on “pure science,” and too much on moving the University’s most cutting-edge research to the new Allston campus. "

Free forum tomorrow in Harvard Square - "10 Steps to Repair American Democracy"

Please join John Bonifaz this Wednesday, October 11, at 7:30 p.m., as he moderates the next Cambridge Forum with voting rights expert Steven Hill as he discusses his new book, “10 Steps to Repair American Democracy: An Owner’s Manual for Concerned Citizens.” The forum is free and open to the public.

Steven Hill argues that antiquated election methods and practices, from voting equipment to the electoral college, have failed to protect the Constitution's guarantee of the right to vote. His new book offers a one-stop shopping guide to what's broken in the democratic process in the United States and an owner's manual for repairing it.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at First Parish, 3 Church Street, Harvard Square, in Cambridge. A book-signing courtesy of Harvard Book Store follows the program. For more information, visit the Cambridge Forum web site.

'Legacy of neglect' lives on for parks

`Legacy of neglect' lives on for parks - The Boston Globe

Above is a link to a letter written in response to this op-ed by Stephen Burrington, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Basically he says that the DCR doesn't need more money.

The letter to the editor that I wrote didn't get published by the Globe, so I'll publish it here:

Later this month, thousands of people will converge on the Charles River for the Head of the Charles regatta. As someone who sees the river almost every day, I am not sure why the DCR would discourage additional money for our state parks and infrastructure (A new path for state park system, Oct 3). Tourists will watch the regatta from bridges crumbling into the water below that the state has failed to maintain. They will notice missing bricks and the cracks where weeds have grown three feet tall this summer. Spectators might drive past the Brighton DCR swimming pool decades overdue for a major renovation. Or they might drive down DCR’s Birmingham Parkway and see the greenspace that has been taken over for a local construction project. Although visitors won’t know about the DCR’s Charles River Master Plan, many residents wonder why so little of this 2002 plan has been implemented, especially in the Allston section where many will watch the rowing.

While waiting for the repairs, maintenance, and capital improvements badly needed for the river and its surroundings, I will be one of many people strongly supporting a dramatic funding increase for our state-owned urban parks.

T will proceed with fare increases

T will proceed with fare increases - The Boston Globe: "The MBTA said yesterday it would proceed with announced fare increases on subway, bus, and commuter rail lines, but would provide some relief to riders who depend on public transit by reducing prices for its most popular bus and subway passes and by offering free rides for children 11 and younger traveling with an adult.
Under the new fares, subway and trolley rides would go from $1.25 to $1.70, and bus fares from 90 cents to $1.25"

Can you figure out the state budget?

Can you figure out the budget? - The Boston Globe: "KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. That's why a democracy can't work properly unless taxpayers know how their tax dollars are being spent.

Each year, the state budget allocates over $25 billion -- $4,000 for every man, woman, and child in the Commonwealth -- to services such as education, public safety, roads, public health, and environmental protection. Yet that budget is often inscrutable to all but the most sophisticated reader.

The state budget document is so hard to understand that ordinary citizens don't have the knowledge they need to shape critical choices about what government does, and how it does it. In fact, rank and file legislators frequently cannot understand clearly the fiscal and programmatic implications of the budgets on which they are asked to vote."

You can download the report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center here.

The State House has several links on its website but good luck figuring out what is what. You can end up on a huge web page like this one or you can go to a site like the Senate 2007 Budget website where a search for "Allston" or "Brighton" finds things like:

Mr. Tolman moved that the bill be amended, in Section 2, in item 4513-1000 by inserting at the end thereof the following:
“provided further, that not less than $500,000 shall be directed to a community health center with locations both in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and in Waltham.”

"For the purposes of a federally funded grant entitled, Suffolk County Drug Courts Enhancement at the Brighton Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department........................................... $73,457"

But I don't see any way to get a clear overview how where the $25 billion goes or how the state's priorities change from year to year.

Mayor proposes cameras to catch red-light runners

Mayor proposes cameras to catch red-light runners - The Boston Globe: "Boston could be come the first city in Massachusetts to install cameras at key intersections in order to catch red-light runners in the act, a move that has some civil rights organizations on the lookout for privacy rights issues.

The measure, proposed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, would snap pictures of the rear license plate of vehicles that run red lights. Police officers would then review the photos and mail a citation , along with a photo of the offending act , to the owners of the vehicles."

More funds needed for repairs and maintenance of Mass. roads and bridges

More funds needed for repairs and maintenance of Mass. roads and bridges, analyst warns - The Boston Globe: "The Massachusetts transportation system is in deep distress, with nearly every agency facing operating deficits and unable to properly maintain or expand roads, bridges, or transit systems, a problem that cannot be solved without new revenues, a prominent budget analyst warned city and state officials yesterday."

Space to Spare in the Self-Storage Industry

Space to Spare, in New York - New York Times

Other areas and companies may be scaling back on their plans for more self-storage, but not here in Brighton. After the 100,000 sq ft Public Storage building is built next year we will probably have 400,000 sq ft of storage space in Allston and Brighton.

Yet, analysts say the market may now be overbuilt after years of explosive growth. Nationally, “there’s about 5.5 square feet per capita of storage space today, and a decade ago, it was half that,” said Michael Knott, an analyst with Green Street Advisors, based in Newport Beach, Calif. The trend in New York is comparable. “I doubt you will see the growth in the next 10 years that you saw in the last 10,” he added.

Some owners of self-storage businesses are sounding cautious, even as their newest buildings open.

“We’re being really careful,” said Steven Novenstein, a partner at Storage Deluxe, a Manhattan-based company that owns 13 storage buildings with signature orange-and-blue striping in the New York City region, with 1.36 million square feet of space.

Ice skating stars come to Allston

Balance Calendar: around town - Balance: "October 6 and 7 - Do you love ice-skating? Were you dying to go to the Winter Olympics? This is your chance, sort of. Come see some of the Worlds' figure skating champions perform live! An Evening with Champions is an ice skating exhibition featuring famous figure skaters. It is held at the Harvard campus in Allston. All the proceeds will support the Jimmy Fund's fight against children's cancer. For more information log onto or call 617-493-8172."

The 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation

This is an interesting look at how youth participate
in politics and communities, particularly relevant to Allston and Brighton considering the many young people living here.