Friday, June 17, 2011

Harvard to Further Emulate MIT in Allston?

The BIG environmental problem on the Charles River is Harvard University’s massive expansion plans on the south side of the Charles River in Allston.

This area is visible from the environmental destruction at Magazine Beach. The plans on the Cambridge side are very clearly targeted at helping out the Allston projects. The jewel in the area was Harvard’s purchase of the Massachusetts Turnpike in the area and an abutting rail yard.

That purchase is comparable in size to Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The purchase occurred a few months after a state review decided that Mass. Pike traffic could be rerouted to the Grand Junction railroad bridge under the BU Bridge. A lot of environmental destruction fits in with that report.

Massive Harvard holdings in Allston were disclosed about that time. Harvard owns most of Western Avenue in Allston, stretching from the Charles River abutting Cambridge to the Charles River abutting Watertown. Harvard owns massive holdings on the extension of Western Avenue in Watertown.

The Boston Globe today (6/17/11) reports that Harvard is planning to announce that it will partner with private industry in its Allston expansion plans.

The reality behind this “change” may be seen in looking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s University Park development south of Central Square in Cambridge. MIT destroyed Central Square by buying out perfectly viable industrial buildings and leaving them vacant. MIT has done the same with a significant part of Mass. Ave. south of Central Square.

Over a 20 to 30 year period, MIT created and retained a 20 to 40 acre wasteland in the middle of one of the most densely developed cities in the United States.

This is similar to actions by Harvard on Western Avenue in Allston. Most visible is a formerly vibrant neighborhood car oriented shopping center. Harvard’s emptied it and has kept it almost totally empty to force the relocation of subsidized housing at Western Avenue and North Harvard in spite of contrary wishes by the owner of the latter parcel.

The MIT University Park area is now mostly private industry, but it shows on MIT maps as part of MIT’s campus. Translation: used by private industry for 20 or 40 years and then by MIT.

Clearly, Harvard has followed MIT’s lead with its destructive landbanking, and intends to follow it by having private industry use pay for new campus buildings.

Very clearly, Cambridge is too small for Harvard, MIT and Cambridge. MIT’s destructiveness has been extended by Harvard to Allston, and MIT and Harvard are key to the ongoing destruction of the Charles River.

Harvard is well established in Cambridge. Cambridge is well established in Cambridge.

The state is improving rail transportation to Massachusetts’ South Coast, the Fall River - New Bedford portion of the Fall River - New Bedford - Providence tri city area.

The location has plenty of room for expansion, excellent highway service, and definite possibilities for passenger rail service. It is also in a convenient location between Boston and New York.

I think the responsible thing is for MIT to move to the South Coast in steps and for Harvard to expand onto vacated portions of the MIT campus in steps. I think an excellent use for Allston is for housing, badly needed. I think an excellent use for Harvard’s landbanked shopping center on Western Avenue is as a shopping center, and the same for the shopping center it owns in Watertown.

This is reasonable, responsible, and moderate. The plans of Harvard, MIT and the City of Cambridge are exactly the opposite.

Cambridge is in the process of destroying the massive and formerly virgin Alewife Reservation for flood storage that belongs under a massive parking lot 200 feet to the south. The Charles River destruction is most definitely far less irresponsible SO FAR and can be reversed.

The link to the Boston Globe article is: