A/B in the news today

The Dorchester Reporter suggests that A/B City Councilor Mark Ciommo could be the next City Council President.

The Herald reviews the various development and planning projects that are happening (or not happening) in the neighborhood.

New Harvard Allston plans "middle of next year"

Debt forces Harvard back to drawing board - The Boston Globe
"Little wonder that Harvard’s Allston science facility project, once pegged as high as $1.4 billion, was halted in early 2009 and is now back to the drawing board in terms of scale and scope. The university has told its bond raters it won’t borrow more than a total of $1 billion over the next three years, including projects that are already underway. Faust indicated that new plans for Allston will be presented by the middle of next year, and the university may need investment partners."

Speedway One of Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources

The Speedway buildings, which blight the western end of Western Ave, have been named one of Massachusetts’ most endangered historic resources by Preservation Massachusetts. It would be great if this newfound attention can lead to restoration and some new development at the site. Some of us thought something might happen back in 2006, and hope springs eternal.

Preservation Massachusetts » Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources

In a stealth race against time - The Boston Globe

Vague Faust reveals nothing about Allston

Drew Faust sat down yesterday with Charlie Gibson (a Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard for this year) for her opening-year dialogue. Here are the Allston-relevant excerpts from a couple sources:

Gibson Grills Drew Faust, Gets Few Details The Harvard Crimson

Gibson, the veteran ABC journalist and a current fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, pressed Faust on how she planned to recalibrate the University’s Allston expansion, but few details were in the offing.

Faust floated several ideas for how the University would proceed on the issue—including potentially co-developing the real-estate—but provided no specifics on the billion dollar construction project’s future.

“[Those properties] are going to be Harvard’s future, but it’s a future that is going to come much more slowly,” Faust said.

Gibson seemed frustrated at times with Faust’s lack of specifics, but in interviews this year, University administrators have been consistently deferring questions regarding the future of the expansion to a series of committees that have been set up to examine potential next steps.
President Faust on Finances, Scientific Misconduct, the Martin Peretz-Muslim Furor, and More

On campus development, Faust said Allston “is critical to the future of Harvard”—but visions for academic use would be realized “much more slowly” because of the financial crash. She insisted that the University now has no timetable for development, and is, as reported, emphasizing leasing of properties it has bought; community amenities; and explorations of options including commercial co-development—part of a broader “re-envisioning” that might yield a lively mixed-use community of academic, institutional, and private investors during the next 50 years.

Tim Flaherty wants a recount (again)

Back in April after the special election to fill our State Senate seat, Tim Flaherty narrowly lost and then asked for a recount. Then he changed his mind and decided to let the results stand. Now, after another close loss, Tim has decided again that he wants votes recounted.

Will Allston be Florida or New York?

For the foreseeable future, Allston will be neither, but this month’s installment of New Yorker Currents raises important issues about green architecture and green commuting. Someday, if Harvard ever brings back its ideas to bring 10,000 additional people to North Allston every day, this question will deserve careful consideration.

During the review of Harvard's Allston Science complex, the topic of how people get to work got some hand-waving about bikes and shuttle buses, but with the exception of North Harvard Street bike lanes we've never seen much action or specific planning about improving the "roots of the city" on a magnitude needed to handle this massive increase in demand.

Currents: Richard Cook on Sustainable Architecture : The New Yorker
Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker’s architecture critic, spoke with Richard Cook, a partner in Cook+Fox Architects and the designer of the new Bank of America Tower, a Manhattan skyscraper, completed earlier this year, that is the largest building to receive a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, the highest standard set by the U.S. Green Building Council.
23 minutes into the interview they talk about how people get to work and how transportation in cities allows for huge energy savings:
  • In an urban setting, the people who work in a building use 1/20th the energy and have 1/20th the carbon production because people use mass transit when compared to a suburban office setting.

  • The Bank of America tower is a 2.2 million sq ft tower without a single parking space in the building.

  • Hybrid cars are not the answer - mass transit is (a subway car in New York rush hour gets 540 passenger miles per gallon.

It's Park(ing) Day

If you are in the Harvard Ave / Brighton Ave neighborhood today, stop by to check out the conversion of this parking space into a green oasis

Another close State Senate election

State Senate - Middlesex, Suffolk & Essex - 2010 Primary Results - Massachusetts - Boston.com
No results yet from Chelsea, but in the meantime Sal DiDomenico is leading Tim Flaherty 6,288 to 6,118

After whetting city’s appetite, Harvard delivers a McDonald’s - The Boston Globe

Nice editorial in today's Globe, pretty well summing up the situation on Western Ave.

After whetting city’s appetite, Harvard delivers a McDonald’s - The Boston Globe

Vote today

Stop by your polling site and be a good citizen! Vote in today's primary election for several state offices today including State Senate, State Rep, State Auditor, and State Treasurer.

My comments on the Charlesview PDA Amendment

September 13, 2010

Jay Rourke
Boston Redevelopment Authority
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201-1007

Mr. Rourke,

For years, the Chief Planners of the City of Boston and Harvard's Allston Development have supported multi-story new construction on Western Avenue as essential to the future of North Brighton and North Allston.
On May 27, 2009, Boston's Chief Planner Kairos Shen presented the North Allston / North Brighton Community Wide Plan (CWP) for future construction on Western Ave. For the site of the First Amendment to Charlesview Planned Development Area, Mr. Shen stated that new buildings should be 4-6 stories tall.
The building proposed in the PDA Amendment is 1 story tall. Article 80 requires that a PDA "conforms to the plan for the district, subdistrict, or similar geographic area in which the Planned Development Area is located." Because the proposed 1 story building does not conform to the CWP, I oppose this Amendment to the PDA and it would be inappropriate for the BRA to approve it.
On June 10, 2009, Harvard's Allston Chief Planner Kathy Spiegelman recognized that land including the site of the First Amendment to Charlesview Planned Development Area presented "an opportunity for an existing urban neighborhood, city and an institution to comprehensively plan together for redevelopment of a significant portion of their neighborhood, city and land." Unfortunately, Harvard and the BRA chose to plan the PDA Amendment in a piecemeal, not comprehensive, approach. The planning for this amendment was also, unfortunately, done without including residents of the Allston/Brighton neighborhood.

Ms. Spiegelman also noted that "The densities and land uses presented [in the Kairos Shen May 27 plan] may not create enough value to support the amount of public infrastructure and open space represented in this alternative." Given that Harvard is now supporting new construction with a density much lower than the Kairos Shen May 27 plan, it creates grave doubt about Harvard's support for the development of the thriving community envisioned by Mr. Shen's CWP.

During the review of the Charlesview PDA in 2009, the BRA was well aware of the need to resolve the McDonald's site. Members of the Boston Civic Design Commission and Allston/Brighton residents attempted to integrate the planning for the Charlesview residences and the McDonald's site, but the BRA did not allow this discussion. That the BRA is now considering the McDonald's site in an amendment to the PDA, raises concerns that the BRA is segmenting the review and evading Article 80's requirements for a clear and predictable review "to protect and enhance urban design quality; to encourage the most appropriate use of land; to improve the overall quality of development...and to maintain and improve a healthy economy by augmenting the City's attractiveness as a place to live, to conduct business and to visit."

Harry Mattison
28 Mansfield St
Allston 02134

To reach me by phone, please use my new Google Voice number: (774) 277-9678

Boston.com adds A/B site

Boston.com has just launched http://www.boston.com/yourtown/boston/allston_brighton/! Contribute a story idea, post an event, or start a discussion, and hopefully this site will become a great resource for our community.

Harvard claims Brighton Mills isn't sufficiently accessible

Proposal to Move McDonalds Still Upsets Allston Residents The Harvard Crimson

“The proposal will bring Charlesview residents closer to the day when they will enjoy new and improved housing,” wrote University spokeswoman Lauren M. Marshall in an e-mailed statement last month. She noted that moving McDonald’s is a preparatory step in the process of building the new Charlesview residence because it will make the new location more accessible.


The new Charlesview location doesn't need any "preparatory" steps to become more accessible. This may sound good to the Crimson readers in Cambridge who don't know anything about the Brighton Mills Shopping Center, but it doesn't make much of any sense to those of us familiar with the reality there.

Brighton Mills and the future Charlesview site already has access from Western Ave (at 3 locations), Everett St, Holton St (2 locations), and Litchfield St. Harvard has abundant empty and under-utilized land in the immediate vicinity for construction activities and I can't imagine how a new McDonald's a few yards from its current location is a preparatory step for anything other than making sure that Western Ave continues to fall far short of its potential.

To the contrary, not building a new McDonald's at Brighton Mills would bring the Charlesview residents even closer to enjoying their new housing because there would not be McDonald's construction getting in the way of the Charlesview construction.

Brazilian Festival - Sunday @ Herter Park

"Eventually" Harvard will garden in Allston

They've been thinking about it for 3+ years, and someday it might actually happen.

"Eventually, Harvard plans to plant a 1 acre garden across the river in Allston,
she said."

Crimson suggests Allston reevaluation

The Year Ahead The Harvard Crimson

The indefinite postponement of the Allston Science Complex’s construction likewise merits reevaluation. If Harvard wishes to remain at the forefront of future research and innovation, it cannot hesitate to move forward, even in the close wake of economic adversity. Doing so is part of what it means to lead.

How much can change in 5 years

While doing some housecleaning I found a copy of this 8-page 11x14" mailing sent by Harvard to probably thousands of Allston and Brighton residents back in 2005. Before it ended up in the recycling bin, it seemed worthy of being preserved as a PDF for future reference and as a reminder for what was to have been.

Planners Chart Ideas For Harvard In Allston - 2005