Charles W. Eliot II '20, professor of City and Regional Planning, has challenged the accuracy and honesty of a recent Metropolitan District Commission report announcing that damage to park areas and trees would be minimized when three underpasses are constructed along Memorial Drive.
Eliot, one of the country's leading landscape architects and planning consultants, examined the modified plans for the $7.46 million project.
The MDC had stated that the number of trees to be destroyed would be reduced by 18. Eliot said the old plans called for the destruction of 95 trees; under the new plans 117 trees (42 sycamores and 74 maples) will be transplanted or destroyed. (A transplanted sycamore's life expectancy is uncertain at best.)
The MDC had also claimed that 11,500 square feet of park land would be saves under the new plans. Eliot, however, pointed out in his report that the underpasses are planned to be 52 feet wide. Memorial Drive is only 40 feet wide, so the intent of the MDC seems obvious: the underpass construction is the first step toward turning the Drive into an expressway.
Eliot's report was given to the Citizens Emergency Committee to Save Memorial Drive, which has been waging a year-long battle to block the construction, which is slated to begin in March, 1965.
Edward L. Bernays and John R. Moot of Cambridge, co-chairmen of the group, issued a statement in which they said: "The Committee believes that such attempts to hoodwink the public with improperganda are a betrayal of the public trust, and it is now exploring ways and means to prevent a repetition of such tactics."
Bernays said last night that the Committee would focus its efforts on getting the state legislature in 1965 to reverse its 1962 decision ordering the construction of three underpasses along the tree-lined parkway. The Committee will attempt to mobilize public opinion in areas outside Greater Boston, and thus to bring pressure to bear on the legislators from these areas to vote for repeal.
Waste of Money
"The proposed expenditure," Bernays asserted, "is a waste of the taxpayers' money; the expressway would serve no useful purpose since the Turnpike extension parallels Memorial Drive. The Committee opposes the creation of a Chinese Wall between the people and the riverfront, and it opposes encroachment on play and recreation areas."