Saturday, September 01, 2007

Response to Boston Globe editorial, "In jittery Allston, a lack of trust," August 27, 2007

On August 30, Marilyn Wellons sent the following response to the Globe's August 27 editorial, "In jittery Allston, a lack of trust."

There are plenty of reasons why Allston residents may not trust assurances of benefits they're supposed to get from Harvard's plans for their neighborhood. The letter outlines reasons to doubt the supposed benefits to the larger public of Harvard's plans for its Allston holdings.

To the Editor:

To quiet the neighborhood’s concerns, you propose a community center on Harvard-owned land in Allston. The site, described as “between Western Avenue and the Mass. Pike,” is land the university sees as “blighted” and “underutilized.” It would convert this land to an “academic precinct.”

Before you sign on to Harvard’s limited vision, consider its impact on an issue also in the news, our state’s transportation infrastructure.

The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization’s April, 2007 Freight Study says the industry, trucks, and trains here constitute the intermodal freight yard closest to the Port of Boston. As such, they reduce the cost of delivered goods, the wear and tear on our roads, and help maintain the region’s increasingly fragile competitiveness.

The university is a private entity. It understandably failed to include an easement for the Beacon Yards in its deed for the land. Only the intervention of the Attorney General, over the protests of Harvard and the Pike's lawyers, protected the public interest here.

Given the pickle the state is in economically, and given the importance of the Beacon Yards for any improvement, endorsing a project--while invoking the public interest--that nibbles away at it is short-sighted, to say the least.