One-family homes in Boston

I've heard from many neighbors who think that new construction of some single family homes would be a good thing for North Allston and North Brighton as part of the Charlesview relocation because they would attract families and owner-occupants and help form a stronger community. The BRA and The Community Builders haven't addressed this or have suggested that it is impossible to build one-family homes.

So I was surprised to hear during an interview on WBUR's Radio Boston (at the 2:00 mark in the show) that new single family homes are being built elsewhere in Boston, specifically on Dudley Street in Dorchester. Here's a reference to this new construction from Boston Magazine:
"Along Dudley Street, new condos and single-family homes are sprouting up like fresh spring perennials."

Column in today's TAB

Brent Whelan and I have this column in today's A/B TAB. Thanks to the TAB for providing the venue to share these thoughts

Menino & Flaherty on RadioBoston today

Tune in today at 1 to 90.9FM WBUR or listen online. Call in with your questions for the candidates.
Boston Mayoral Election: Nov 3rd Radio Boston

$$$ in the Senate race

Between reading this story in today's Globe (Democratic Senate hopefuls split on PAC funds - Coakley and Capuano taking PAC $, Khazei and Pagliuca not) and watching this thought provoking video about Institutional Corruption by Harvard's Lawrence Lessig, I thought I'd look into it a bit.

One thing that always interests me is the amount of money that candidates get from people who live outside their district. Sure, candidates might have friends from elsewhere who want to support their friend with 'no strings attached', but that doesn't tell the whole story.

For example, take a look at the people from outside Massachusetts who have given $500 to Martha Coakley in the past few years.

Why has New York lawyer Stanley Bernstein and his wife Vivian given $3,000 to the MA Attorney General during the past 3 years?
What about Turner Smith and Sabrina Coughlin who live at the same address on Park Avenue in NY? Why have they given $4,500 to AG Coakley? shares some information about who is filling Rep. Capuano's campaign account during this election cycle, such as the National Beer Wholesalers Assn and the American Dental Assn who both have given him $10,000 through their PACs.

Movie filming on the Brighton Charles

I noticed a police boat on the Charles this morning near the Arsenal Street bridge. It seemed rather unusual and here is the answer...

Charles River scullers on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Bursting Harvard’s Bubble

Nice to see a Harvard undergrad thinking about Harvard's institutional role in local society -
The Harvard Crimson :: Opinion :: Dissent: Bursting Harvard’s Bubble

TAB story about Monday's press conference

Flaherty and Yoon criticize BRA over Charlesview e-mails - Allston/Brighton TAB

Globe: BRA isn't doing enough to pressure Harvard

A big THANK YOU to the Globe for this editorial and encouraging Harvard and the BRA to do more to improve the situation here.

Allston shouldn’t suffer on Harvard’s account - The Boston Globe

Court overturns zoning variance for 63 Tremont

On the AB2006 group there has been some discussion about neighbors who went to court and successfully overturned a zoning variance that the City had granted. The text of the court's decision is available here.

Ciommo campaign finance report

Alex Selvig's campaign has provided the pre-election report that was filed this week.

Upcoming zoning hearings

9-31 Braintree Street: Legalize existing billboard and replace existing billboard with a new digital/electronic billboard.

1954 Commonwealth Avenue: Change the legal occupancy from a three family dwelling to a sixteen unit dwelling. Erect a six story, rear addition with eleven parking spaces below.

More info at

Great sign at Hill Memorial Church!

Seen this morning on North Harvard St:

Last mayoral debate

MassVOTE is sponsoring a debate tonight from 6:30-8:00 at Faneuil Hall. It will be broadcast live on WTKK-FM (96.9).

Culture of disdain

Letter to the Editor in today's Globe following up on Saturday's story: Not surprised to see culture of disdain for community at BRA - The Boston Globe

On a lighter note, the Globe notes the promised hug between Flaherty and Allston resident Paul Alford - Hugs all around - The Boston Globe

NECN coverage of this morning's press conference

Link to NECN website

Ciommo campaign finance report

Mark Ciommo's campaign has provided the pre-election report that was filed today. One interesting contribution is $100 from former A/B district city councilor Jerry McDermott.

Morning press conference with Flaherty & Yoon

Thanks to the many neighbors who joined Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon this morning in front of Harvard's empty Kmart building to call for a City government that works with the citizens of Boston.

The Boston Globe has posted this story, and we were joined by, among others, camera crews from New England Cable News and Fox 25 and a reporter for WBUR's Radio Boston, so check them out for additional coverage.

Waiting for a train in A/B

Seems some at City Hall and the State House like the idea of Diesel Multiple Unit trains that could connect A/B with downtown more effectively than commuter rail trains, but they don't seem close to ready to do anything about it. Maybe in five more years it will be something more than a "concept".

Next stop: low-cost diesel rail? - The Boston Globe

For the past five years, the City of Boston has been advocating the use of DMUs for Allston and Brighton and Dorchester, using existing tracks.
“Right now, it’s really at a concept level,’’ said Vineet Gupta, director of planning for the Boston Transportation Department.

It’s not clear whether Jeff Mullan, who takes over for Aloisi, shares his vision on DMUs. He said on Friday that it was premature for him to comment and that he is focused on merging the state’s road systems as part of a historic reorganization project. But he and Aloisi have spoken about the idea, he said. Durrant later added that it’s “not something we’re considering in the near future.’’

In Allston, BRA’s e-mails paint a disparaging picture

In Allston, BRA’s e-mails paint a disparaging picture - The Boston Globe

Thanks to the Globe for helping expose how the BRA really feels about the residents of Boston. A few thoughts:


"Later Thursday, the BRA said Rourke had received a “verbal warning’’ over the e-mails in his personnel file."

Senior officials at the BRA have been getting these disgusting emails for 20 months but apparently had no problem with them. But when a Globe reporter starts making phone calls, then the BRA decides that a verbal warning is appropriate. I wonder what it takes for a BRA employee to get a written warning?


Does anyone really think this is an apology?

On Thursday, Rourke apologized to Allston residents who were offended by the messages. “These are internal e-mails,’’ he said. “They are my comments to staff members and should not reflect on the agency.’’Rourke said he had lived in
Allston for 27 years while growing up and is “passionate’’ about the neighborhood and the project.
“In the heat of the moment, sometimes your passions get the best of you, unfortunately,’’ he said.

When you are a public employee, there really is no such thing as an "internal email" (except in the limited exemptions allowed by the Public Records law). Maybe the BRA thought we were too dumb or ignorant to actually file a public records request.

Why shouldn't these emails sent to so many people inside and outside the BRA by a BRA employee reflect on the BRA?

Breaking the law

My Public Records request specifically requested all financial documents regarding the construction financing of the new Charlesview. The BRA provided none. But the BRA admits that it has had this data.
"Elsbree said BRA staff had reviewed the project’s finances to ensure that it can be completed"

Welcome to Limbo

The Globe gets it mostly right in this editorial about the internal and external damage caused by Harvard's financial limitations.

I can't help wonder why they write "would" in the second sentence below. Harvard has made pretty clear for several months that their 2007 plans for Allston are out the window and nothing new is forthcoming.

Meanwhile, the turnabout on the science complex created uncertainty for an entire neighborhood. Completion of the project will transform Allston, where Harvard owns much of the land, but an indefinite delay would leave the neighborhood in limbo.
Also, has anyone seen a chastened Harvard official in Allston yet? President Faust may act chastened when speaking to Boston's business elite, but here in Allston and Brighton during this year it, unfortunately, has been the same old same old.

University officials are clearly chastened. In her speech, Faust acknowledged that Harvard had suffered because it couldn’t call back assets overseen by external managers.
It's a university, not a hedge fund - The Boston Globe

Harvard's Allston group goes to work in Cambridge

Wondering what all those planners and managers in Harvard's Allston Development Group are doing now that Allston development has been put on ice?

Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences academic progress, financial problems Harvard Magazine
Physical and financial planning for renewal of the undergraduate Houses—expected to be a billion-dollar-plus project extending more than a decade, and perhaps beginning in 2012—has now been centralized under the direction of the University’s Allston Development Group and vice president for finance.

APA names 2009 Best Streets

I don't harbor any false illusions that Western Ave will make the American Planning Association's 2010 list of "Great Streets", but it is nice to dream about a brighter future and read about the 2009 Great Streets and some wonderful transformation stories. For example:
"President Clinton Avenue has developed from a forgotten district of abandoned warehouses into a vibrant social hub of our community," Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said. "In a picturesque and walkable setting, President Clinton Avenue has become the lynchpin of a district that includes a major tourist attraction, an acclaimed lecture series, the farmers' market and an array of restaurants, musical venues and museums."

"Interesting and vibrant tenants" coming?

More from Drew Faust's appearance at this morning's Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Banker & Tradesman:"'We are undertaking a leasing program,' Faust told reporters, after addressing the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. 'We're trying to find interesting and vibrant tenants for spaces in Allston
Mahoney's is Havard's one interesting and vibrant tenant here. Seeing more would sure be great.

Harvard imagining an affordable Science Complex

Faust says Harvard assessing options on science complex - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

Harvard President Drew Faust said this morning that the university is in the midst of re-assessing options for its long-planned expansion into Allston, including the possibility of "re-imagining" the $1 billion science complex at the heart of the project as the university grapples with its new financial realities.

...during an impromptu meeting with reporters following a Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Faust said that "we're trying to assess options which would be affordable."

A potential redesign of the 589,000-square-foot science complex is the first public indication by Harvard officials that the complex will not only be delayed, as Faust first warned in February, but may not go forth as currently envisioned.

Does anyone know which residents Harvard is supposedly working with on this? I went to the Allston Civic Association meeting in June to hear about the exciting progress that Harvard claimed to be making on finding a tenant for Harvard's abandoned CITGO station. But four months later the building is still empty.

She said the university is working with residents to discuss interim uses for
the vacant Harvard-owned buildings and lots in the once industrial neighborhood

Democratic Ward 21 Committee endorsements

The Boston Democratic Ward 21 Committee has endorsed Mark Ciommo, John Connolly, Ayanna Pressley, and Tito Jackson for City Council. This is a change from earlier this year when they did not make an endorsement in preliminary election for the A/B District seat.

Everett St bulb planting on Saturday

Please join the ABNNF on Saturday from 9-12 to plant bulbs on the Everett Street slope between Lincoln and Adamson Streets.

We have daffodils, grape hyacinth, snowdrops, scilla, hyacinth, and more! There are plenty of small bulbs just right for little hands, so kids are welcome too. Please bring a shovel and/or trowel if you have them.

Thanks to the New England Grassroots Environment Fund for the grant that funded this purchase and to White Flower Farm for their assistance with selecting bulb species and for providing a generous discount.

BRA Charlesview Oct 5 meeting video

Video from the October 5 BRA Charlesview meeting is now online.
  1. Physical model that was on display at the meeting -
  2. Charlesview presentation and comments by BRA Director Palmieri and Chief Planner Shen -
  3. Public comments, part 1-
  4. Public comments, part 2 -
  5. Public comments, part 3 -
  6. Public comments, part 4 -
There are a few small gaps (changing tapes, replacing batteries) and the dead mouse spectacle was missed, but otherwise it is a complete record of the meeting. It was also too bad that the BRA's microphone system didn't work that night, so you might have to listen closely at times.

How Menino has mishandled Harvard & Charlesview

Why are residents of Allston and Brighton, including residents of Charlesview, becoming more public and visible to voice our concerns with Harvard's expansion, the Harvard-Charlesview land swap, and years of neglect at Charlesview?

It's because over the past several years the Menino Administration has repeatedly made serious errors that have harmed the quality of life for residents of Charlesview and people throughout North Allston and North Brighton. We may never know why he chose to do, or not do, these things, but recent reports make clear that if it involves development in the city of Boston, the decisions are being made at the desk of Tom Menino.

1) Where was Menino during years of mismanagement at Charlesview?

In 1995, the HUD District Inspector General wrote this memo to the State's Office of Housing. He found that:

"The project has not raised rents since 1991 and, therefore, is not generating sufficient income for repairs. The project currently needs over $3 million for repairs"

"Due to lack of cash flow, the project delayed critical repairs. Physical inspections demonstrate a steady decline in the project's physical condition"

"The Regulatory Agreement requires the owners to keep the project in good repair and condition. It is clear that the Regulatory Agreement is not being followed and the project is deteriorating."

Tom Menino became Mayor of Boston in 1993, and it shouldn't have been much of a secret that Charlesview was deteriorating. Why didn't he do anything about it?

2) Why does the Mayor's review process disenfranchise the residents of Charlesview?

In 2005, the Charlesview Residents Organization wrote this urgent letter asking "who is working on behalf of the residents?" and insisting that their organization "be at the table to ensure that the residents' welfare is protected". Mayor Menino received a copy of this letter, and what did he do about it?

In 2006, the president of the Charlesview Residents Organization asked, "Why is everything kept in secret? Why have you ignored our wishes?"

In 2008, Mayor Menino selected residents of Allston and Brighton to serve on the Impact Advisory Group for the City's review of the proposal. He could have make sure that Charlesview residents would be directly represented. But instead he created an IAG without a single resident of Charlesview.

3) Why hasn't the Mayor done more to improve living conditions for the 500+ residents at Charlesview?

A Harvard Crimson story in 2003 described Charlesview as in need of “absolute repair".

In June 2008, the BRA was informed that Charlesview received a failing grade on its inspection by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

To this day, residents of Charlesview continue to describe poor living conditions, rodents, leaks, and more. For these many years, where have Boston's housing inspectors been?

Boston requires property owners to get newly rented apartments inspected within 45 days of rental and certified by the Housing Inspection Division to bring rental units into compliance with the State Sanitary Code. In this brochure, Menino writes

"As mayor of Boston, I want to ensure that tenants and landlords of residential rental properties are treated fairly and that safe sanitary housing is available in all neighborhoods."

For the last 16 years, why hasn't Menino been ensuring that residents of Charlesview have safe and sanitary housing?

4) Does the Mayor support economic segregation in a new Charlesview?

A recent Harvard publication states that "the clustering of lowest-income and assisted renter households imposes a host of social and economic disadvantages on these groups". But in spite of this widespread understanding about what works and what doesn't work, Menino's BRA has allowed the submission of a radically segregated proposal for the new Charlesview

This proposal includes 260 low-income apartments massed together next to a shopping center parking lot. On the other side of Western Ave, 74 market-rate condo are proposed overlooking the Charles River. The contrast between the "haves" and the "have nots" could not be more stark.

5) Why does the Mayor ignore the needs of Allston/Brighton for a more stable and invested community?

Allston and Brighton need more homeownership, as we have one of the state's lowest homeownership rates and too many absentee landlords with little stake in our quality of life. But instead of working with Harvard to address this, the Mayor's BRA is pushing a Charlesview proposal with only 26 homeownership units around the edge of the 260 apartments at the Brighton Mills site.

6) Why does the Mayor's BRA fail to keep promises made to the residents of North Allston and North Brighton?

Dozens of residents attended dozens of meetings to work with the BRA and Harvard on the 2005 North Allston Strategic Framework for Planning.

This vague, though superficially attractive, document was published with a cover letter signed by Mayor Menino. The Framework promised 2 follow-up studies, one of which would focus on the 30 acre Holton Street Corridor, a swath of poorly-designed and under-used commercial and industrial space between Western Ave and the Mass Pike.

After three years of stalling by the BRA, planning for the Holton Street Corridor finally began in 2008. But by then, Harvard had preempted the public planning process by signing a agreement with the Charlesview Board in 2007 for a land-swap to relocate the Charlesview Apartments into the Corridor.

During BRA planning meetings in 2008 and 2009, residents repeatedly asked the BRA to discuss the homeownership/rental balance of new construction in the Holton Street Corridor, ratios and physical integration of housing for people of all income levels, and the location of new civic buildings (such as a K-8 elementary school). Staff of Menino's BRA continually deferred these issues and then, in the summer of 2009, declared that the planning was complete before any of these subjects had been properly addressed.

7) Why is Menino's BRA so secretive?

For more than a year, residents of Allston and Brighton and their elected officials have asked Menino's BRA to provide more transparency into the planning and financing of the Charlesview relocation. The BRA has consistently refused to provide requested information and the BRA has failed to fully comply with three Public Records Law requests filed in the past two months.

Just imagine, all this from a Mayor who said earlier this year "We're more transparent than Saran Wrap."

8) Why is Menino's BRA even considering approving a project that may lack financing to complete construction and maintain the property after it is built?

Considering the maintenance problems at the current Charlesview and the aborted construction projects in Allston and throughout Boston, how is it possible that a new project can be seriously considered without solid proof that the developer will have the money to build it right and maintain the property after construction is complete?

In April 2008, the BRA required that "assurances must be clear, exact, and extensively detailed in the DPIR as to how the Proposed Project, if approved, will be maintained to avoid and minimize future neglect."

But July 2009, the BRA allowed the developer to submit a DPIR that contains no such information. Specific requests to the BRA and developer for information about construction financing have been ignored.

To make matters worse, at a September 15 public meeting, Menino's Chief Planner publicly questioned the project's financing and the developer's ability to complete a project of this size.

Tree cutting at Smith Field

Lots of trees along the WBZ side of Smith Field are being cut down. Probably this will mean fewer people tent camping back there and fewer rabbits too.

Harvard relelases 2009 financial report

Harvard's 2009 financial report, released on Friday evening, describes some incredibly risky behavior that contributed to Harvard's massive losses this year. Regarding future capital spending, Harvard Magazine writes that:

Capital spending and property acquisitions totaled $644 million, about $50 million from fiscal year 2008. Major projects included the Law School’s Northwest Corner complex, where steel was being erected this autumn; the prospective renovation and expansion of the Fogg Art Museum; and the Allston science complex, where work will be reassessed at the end of this calendar year.

Shore said that Harvard was “still in the process of planning and thinking about the options for all” major construction projects, including the art museum; design details, construction costs, and financing are still being reevaluated.

Additional work on Allston will obviously be a long-term project. In the interim, Shore noted, Harvard has to identify appropriate uses for properties it has acquired but now will not occupy or redevelop for an extended period. Institutional uses, codevelopment options, and private alternatives for use of the land by other investors are all options to consider. “We haven’t ruled out any option,” Shore said.

Also, money that would have been spent on the Allston expansion is now being used to renovate labs in Longwood and Cambridge for scientists who were planning on relocating to the Allston Science Complex
An unanticipated but significant project is the renovation of Cambridge laboratories (and relocation of some existing laboratories) to accommodate stem-cell scientists, and similar work in the Longwood Medical Area, for bioengineering researchers; both had been scheduled to go into the Allston complex, the completion of which is delayed at best. This previously unscheduled work will be paid for as part of the Allston-related infrastructure fund, given the necessary redeployments.

Watch the rowing, support the future of A/B

Please come and join us Saturday afternoon for a nice walk around The Head of the Charles to raise awareness to what's happening (or not) in our neighborhood.

We had a great turnout tonight at Barry's Corner and yesterday in Brighton Center, and taking a walk through the Regatta spectators tomorrow would be a great way to continue.

We can raise the awareness of those who aren't aware of the mothballing of land, the Mayor's lack of interest, and that we are a COMMUNITY, not land to be bought and stored for some future unknown use.

We will be meeting at 3 PM Saturday at Barry's Corner, at the land-banked former Citgo, and walking from there. It won't be a marathon - maybe an hour at the most - and we'd love to see you there.

Tonight in Barry's Corner from 5-6

We had a great time last night on Washington Street spreading our message about how Harvard and our Mayor are failing to help build a better neighborhood. We spoke with several neighbors and City Council candidates who were sympathetic and receptive.

Please join us this evening in Barry's Corner (corner of Western Ave & North Harvard St) for a bigger and better rally.

Jackson, Murphy, & Connolly on Charlesview

It was a pleasant surprise to have at-large City Council candidate Tito Jackson join us at the ABNNF meeting on Wednesday night to learn more about our neighborhood and the issues relating to the Harvard-Charlesview land swap. It is rare for an at-large city councilor or candidate to attend an issue-oriented event like this (as opposed to a political or social event like a debate or parade) and I think everyone at the meeting appreciated Tito's presence.

Also, last night at the debate, Councilors Murphy and Connolly told me that they will send comments to the BRA today about the Charlesview proposal. Thank you to both of them for their involvement.

At-large city-council debate summary

Thanks to AdamG for this great summary of last night's BAIA debate - At-large city-council candidates on the issues Universal Hub

Charlesview public comments

Below are the comments received by the BRA for the just-concluded comment period for the Charlesview DPIR. Many great, thoughtful letters from Allston and Brighton residents who unanimously favor a better development than what has currently been proposed.

Two of the letters are from Charlesview residents : one of them writing that "i also support the neighborhood view that harvard should be more committed as far as revitalizing the neighborhood" (page 7) and one that vigorously rejects the current proposal for many reasons (page 26).

Other Charlesview residents signed their names to postcards (probably printed and distributed by Charlesview management and/or The Community Builders) explaining that they are "excited about the chance to move to a new home". Considering that there are 550 people in 213 apartments at Charlesview (according to the 2000 Census) I am surprised that only 70 people were willing to sign these postcards (fewer than one person for every three apartments). What does it tell us about the support (or lack thereof) for Charlesview's proposal when so few of the current Charlesview residents would support it? Maybe the majority at Charlesview agree with their neighbors throughout Allston and Brighton that the plan should be significantly improved.

Charlesview DPIR Comments

HUD's Charlesview memo

When talking about a diverse, new Charlesview with housing for people at all levels of the income spectrum, one rebuttal that we have heard is that "HUD won't allow" more work-force (80-120% of median income) and market-rate housing to be integrated among the affordable (<80% of median income) apartments.

I am no expert in the United States Housing Act of 1937, but I see nothing in here that would prohibit Chalresview from becoming a more diverse community consistent with the HUD programs that promote mixed-income housing.
HUD Charlesview memo

Stop Harvard Mothballing: join us TONIGHT and TOMORROW

Thank you to the 30 neighbors who joined us for last night's ABNNF meeting to discuss our next steps relative to the Harvard/Charlesview land-swap and Harvard's mothballing in Allston and Brighton. We agreed to be more visible and public in defense of our neighborhood, and that starts tonight. Please join us:


1.       Tonight from 6-7 in front of the Brighton Elks Lodge (326 Washington Street, Brighton Center) to help us spread our message to people who will be attending the At-Large City Council Debate.

2.       Tomorrow from 5-6 in Barry's Corner at the intersection of Western Ave and North Harvard Street


Hope to see you then,


ABNNF meets tonight - Topic: Charlesview next steps

Thanks to everyone who wrote all those great comments to the BRA over the past few days. Please join us tonight at 6:00 at the Honan Library.

Will she utter the A word?

Harvard's president will be on the Charlie Rose show tonight at 11 on Channel 2.

Allston crime hits Harvard jockettes

The Harvard Crimson reports that almost $4,500 of valuables were stolen last week from women's locker rooms in Harvard's Allston sports complex.

Charlesview comments rolling in

Thanks to the many neighbors who have submitted comments to about the Charlesview relocation. You can find several of them at the AllstonBrighton2006 Google Group. Deadline is 5pm on Tuesday.

Ask Menino to help Allston/Brighton - Charlesview comment deadline TUESDAY

Dear Neighbors,

In the upcoming weeks, Mayor Menino will make a decision about the Harvard-Charlesview land swap. He can continue allowing Harvard to sit on acres of vacant, blighted, and under-used land for decades into the future. Or, he can ask Harvard to do more to make Allston and Brighton the better neighborhood that Harvard and the Mayor have promised us.

Would you help encourage the Mayor to improve our neighborhood by doing two things?

After dozens of BRA meetings and planning by members of the ABNNF, several key issues have become clear:

  1. What will be happen on Harvard’s Allston and Brighton land and when?
    Many of the issues below can only be solved if Harvard allows activity on its idle property that is beyond the boundaries of its 50-year plan. It seems reasonable to ask Harvard to allow reasonable uses that will strengthen Allston and Brighton for Harvard's benefit and ours. The current degree of uncertainty stifles investment, harms our quality of life, and should no longer be accepted.
  2. The new Charlesview must be built properly and well-maintained
    Charlesview residents have suffered from sub-standard living conditions. Charlesview must be able to afford high-quality construction and ongoing maintenance for many years. Charlesview and the BRA have refused to prove that Charlesview has the money to complete this construction properly and that past maintenance problems will not be repeated.
  3. Allston and Brighton need more homeownership
    Only 2 out of 10 Allston/Brighton residents own their homes. This makes us close to last in all of Massachusetts. The Charlesview proposal for development at the Brighton Mills Shopping Center has fewer than 1 ownership unit for every 10 apartments. Development of more homeownership south of Holton Street would be one solution.
  4. Impacts of increased density
    This project sets dangerous precedents without planning ahead. Our neighborhood has nothing like Charlesview’s proposed 8-story building with 118 bedrooms on a quarter-acre of land. If future development has this density, what will happen to the traffic on Western Ave, Everett Street, and what are today quiet side streets? There has been no planning for these impacts and this project lead to overloading streets that were never intended for this volume of traffic.
  5. Our crowded neighborhood needs more parks
    The Charlesview proposal includes ½ acre of parks for approximately 1,000 residents. This is nowhere near enough for people of all ages to socialize, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors. Compare this to the Allston/Brighton average of 5 acres of parks per 1,000 residents and Boston’s average of 7 acres per 1,000. This proposal also offers little to improve access to the River or make improvements to support the increased usage that it would create.
  6. More retail on Western Ave is needed
    Since Harvard University bought Brighton Mills and other nearby retail locations, our neighborhood has lost the convenience and jobs of more than 100,000 square feet of retail (Kmart, OfficeMax, and many small businesses). The current proposal includes only 13,000 square feet of retail, enough for maybe 3 or 4 small stores. This could be corrected by reconfiguring the Charlesview proposal (more retail on the ground floor along Western Ave instead of Charlesview management offices) and integrating McDonald's into a multi-story building instead of rebuilding a one-story McDonald's-only building surrounded by parking on all 4 sides.
  7. The importance of economic integration
    Charlesview claims that their new housing will be “mixed”, but fewer than 1 in 10 of the proposed apartments are for people with an average income or above. A real mix would have a equal balance of rental and ownership housing for people with all income levels. Virtually every expert in housing policy and sociology (and the common sense of most citizens) agree that economic and racial segregation should be avoided at all costs. A new Charlesview with more workforce and market-rate housing can also provide many options for current Charlesview residents who want to remain close to their current neighbors.
  8. More Family-sized units needed
    To help create a more family-friendly neighborhood, we need more housing big enough for families. The proposed 8-story condo building has ZERO units with 3 or 4 bedrooms.
  9. Units intended for homeownership should require owner-occupancy
    If large institutions (such as Harvard University) are able to buy and then rent the proposed homeownership units, the project will do nothing to help stabilize our community and provide permanent housing for people who want to become long-term residents and neighbors.

For reference, all comment letters from the last round of review (any they were excellent!) for this project are at:

Thank you

Steve Pagliuca coming nearby

Steve Pagiluca, the Senate candidate with interesting ideas for transforming Harvard's blighted Allston and Brighton property, will be near our neighborhood on Saturday. It would be great for some Allston and Brighton residents to encourage him to keep showing leadership on a subject where so few others have been willing to even make a peep.

Campaign Open House Steve Pagliuca For Senate
Celebrate the opening of Steve's headquarters on Saturday, October 10th at 11am. Learn more about Steve and how you can be involved with the campaign.

102 Mt. Auburn St.Harvard Square, Cambridge (next to Peet's Coffee & across from Harvard Square station)

Crimson Ed Board urges communication & development

Nice to see the Crimson offering some suggestions to the Harvard administration about how to be a good neighbor.

The Harvard Crimson :: Opinion :: Land to Build On
"The consequences of a construction slowdown at the science complex provide justification and incentive for Harvard to be more proactive about community building projects in Allston. In moving forward, the university should initiate development in ways that promote the intersection of Allston’s interests and its own interests. However the university proceeds, it should keep open a channel of communication with Allston residents as this project continues. Much of the frustrations on the part of residents stem from Harvard being tight-lipped about its current development plans."

No Brookline Machine commitment from Harvard

The 0.7 acre Brookline Machine site (in green on the map) is just a tiny drop in the bucket of Harvard's under-utilized Allston and Brighton property. A drop in the bucket is better than an empty bucket, but it falls short of even coming close to addressing the enormity of Harvard's blight.

The Herald's Thomas Grillo followed up with the Mayor yesterday about this site, and apparently our Mayor hasn't been able to secure a real commitment from Harvard.
“Harvard President Drew Faust promised me that Harvard would do housing there, but there was no backup,” Menino said.

Kevin McCluskey, a university spokesman, said the school “anticipates continued constructive discussions with the city on the issue of housing at the Brookline Machine site.”
"Continued constructive discussions"? Are you kidding me? How complicated is this? Hasn't it been obvious since Harvard bought Brookline Machine last December that it would become involved in the Charlesview relocation?
BRA Deputy Director Mike Glavin and Harvard's McCluskey both made sure that Michael Kineavy knew about Harvard's purchase of Brookline Machine two days after the sale. They wanted to make sure Menino personally knew about it and 10 months later it is astonishing that we aren't already past "anticipating constructive discussions".

Charlesview records from the BRA

While the Globe has been trying to get Michael Kineavy's emails from City Hall, I have been asking the BRA to comply with the Massachusetts Public Records Law and provide its records about the Charlesview relocation. What has been provided is incomplete, but it still provides a rare view into what happens in Tom Menino's BRA, their priorities, and attitudes. In future posts I will highlight some of the most interesting items, but in the meantime here is the full set.

bumptoe gets it right

Comments on the Boston Globe website sometimes don't offer much of value. A notable exception is the comment from a neighbor using the screen name "bumptoe" about last night's BRA Charlesview meeting. On the tone and substance of what the BRA had to say last night, the lack of leadership in this entire process from the BRA and the Charlesview Board, and how Harvard (even after the Science Complex debacle) continues to get its way, this comment sums it all up pretty well.

Only Kenneally attends

All the candidates for city wide office (Mayor and At-Large City Councilors) were invited to last night's BRA/Charlesview meeting. As far as I know, only one of them chose to attend - Andrew Kenneally.

Historically, at-large councilors don't spend much time around here, which may be a result of our low voting rate. Regardless, it was nice that one of the candidates to represent us came to a meeting about this huge project.

News reports from last night's Charlesview meeting

Neighbors seek Harvard commitment for Charlesview housing plan - The Boston Globe

The Harvard Crimson :: News :: Allston Plot Slated for Housing

Harvard proposal met with skepticism -


Someday Boston will have a new Mayor and Harvard will have a new President. And then maybe Harvard's vast and abandoned empire in Allston and Brighton will be something more than a bargaining chip. But until then, I wouldn't hold your breath.

Update on dead Harvard trees

Back in June I wondered what was happened with all the new trees that Harvard planted on Western Ave that were either dead or close to it. According to today's Globe, at least 38 of these trees are dead, Harvard will have a new landscaping plan by the end of October, and replacement trees will be planted next spring.

Monday Charlesview meeting

There is one central question that to ask at Monday's Charlesview meeting:

Will Mayor Menino stand up to Harvard and insist that Harvard allow reasonable changes to dramatically improve the new Charlesview and North Allston/North Brighton as a whole?
It seemed that our Mayor might have been putting pressure on Harvard earlier this year, but when we asked about this at subsequent Task Force meetings we were never able to get a straight answer and it doesn't seem that much of anything came from whatever pressure was applied.

Below is the ABNNF flier for Monday's meeting. Perhaps some of you reading this blog could print a few copies and distribute them to your neighbors, or email them this link asking them to come to the meeting:

With a strong turnout and an election in a month, maybe we can convince the Mayor that our neighborhood is more important than Harvard's land-bank.

Help fill Everett St holes

Last weekend we did a lot of great planting on the Everett St slope, but we dug more holes than we had plants to put them in. On Sunday morning from 9-12, it would be great to have your help to put plants in these holes. We also have a wonderful 10lb bag of Northeast Deluxe seed mix from Vermont Wildflower Farm to spread. Thanks to Mahoney's Garden Center and Vermont Wildflower Farm for their generous support of this project.

Mayoral debate tonight @ 7 on Ch. 5

Rivals to square off in mayoral debate - The Boston Globe