Friday, October 10, 2008

Archie Mazmanian on the Geese and the Urban Ring

Archie Mazmanian left us the following comment which led to the report after it.

I put up two more comments (7 and 8) on the current Urban Ring installment at that should be of interest, especially #8 final paragraph on your subject.

From, comment 8:

Archie Mazmanian on October 9th, 2008 at 2:20 pm:


While a small gaggle of White Geese being deprived of their habitat on the Cambridge side of the Charles River at the BU Bridge are honking to get the attention of residents interested in preserving what little fauna and flora remain in this urban area, a battle is going on for what I term the “Boston Bank of the Charles River Beanpot Tourney” featuring Harvard University and Boston University that may at some point break out into a hockey game without ice (unless the Charles is frozen over). While Harvard has long been ensconced on the Boston side with its Business School, this was far enough away from the BU Bridge and the BU campus as to be tolerable to the latter. But then Harvard trumped even BU institutional blockbusting of past years with its “Harvard’s Got A Secret” acquisition of many acres in Allston, with plans to expand its campus there.

This was bad enough, especially since the Harvard elephant’s trunk got under the Urban Ring Phase 2 tent and has overwhelmed and complicated Phase 2 routes in the area of the BU Bridge and Commonwealth Avenue that would provide connections to the Harvard affiliated LMA.

For years, BU has envisioned expanding its campus westerly to and including portions of the Beacon Yards when available for development. But BU never closed the deal with CSX, assuming it tried and had the financial wherewithal. So in came Harvard and acquired the underlying land of the Beacon Yards, subject of course to CSX easements for rail, and perhaps other, transportation. As noted in an earlier comment on this installment of the Urban Ring series, the Commonwealth and CSX have been negotiating some sort of a deal. Harvard’s involvement in such negotiations has not been disclosed. It is doubtful that BU would have standing to participate in them. So it would appear that BU further westward expansion (assuming it had the funds) would require the largess of Harvard. There is so much acreage potential involved that Harvard could probably accommodate BU with a few acres, with an appropriate quid pro quo, of course. (Business is business, even – especially – in academia.)

As time goes on, we’ll learn more about the CSX negotiations as well as Harvard’s plans for its Allston campus and the potential development of the Beacon Yards, perhaps comparable to the Prudential Center as suggested in an earlier comment. Meantime, BU may be between the rock (BU Bridge) and the hard place (Beacon Yards) as the Phase 2 route to accommodate Harvard may disrupt BU’s West campus.

For the time being, BU seems to be quiet but if events develop to accommodate Harvard, then the honking on the Boston side of the Charles may overwhelm that of the White Geese on the Cambridge side.

By the way, drivers on Memorial Drive should proceed with care in the area of the BU Bridge to protect and accommodate the White Geese crossing between their habitat and new feeding grounds forced upon them by the Commonwealth and Cambridge. In fact, give a couple of honks of your horns in support of the White Geese of Cambridge; I’ll be listening here in Brookline just across the Charles. Also, the Cambridge Conservation Commission has rescheduled a hearing relative to the BU Bridge that should address White Geese issues on November 17th. Maybe we can start up a fund for “Make Way for Goslings.”