Garage Spurs Area Tenants' Dissatisfaction

A group of Cambridge tenants will meet with Harvard officials today to protest Harvard's building of a parking garage on property adjacent to their apartment house.

The garage, which is being erected on the corner of Broadway and Felton Streets, will provide parking space for the new science center and Gund Hall.

The tenants living at the corner of Broadway and Prescott Streets are particularly upset about the fact that the wall facing their building will have two-foot-high slits in it, which will allow automobile noise and fumes to be blown toward their apartments. The tenants have been complaining to Harvard about the garage since early this fall.

"These are not the first complaints (about the building)," city councillor Francis H. Duehay '55, chairman of the subcommittee on Transportation and Parking, said yesterday. "Complaints were filed with the School Committee last summer because of the congestion the garage will cause in an area next to a public school."

Duehay said that he has called a special School Committee hearing scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday night at Rindge Technical School to discuss the parking garage. He also said that he will sit in on today's meeting with Harvard.

Last June, Harvard sent the Prescott Street tenants a letter informing them of the plans for the garage. In the letter, Harvard said that it was being built in compliance with Cambridge zoning ordinances requiring the provision of off-the-street parking for all new institutional buildings.

In November, after numerous complaints by Sheldon L. Glashow and Sidney R. Coleman--both professors of Physics and tenants of the building -- Donald C. Moulton, coordinator for Community Affairs, met with a group of tenant representatives.

Following that meeting, Moulton sent a letter to the tenants explaining that it would not be possible to block off the wall facing the tenants' building because the two-foot slit opening on each floor "provides the bare minimum amount of space to qualify under the requirements of a naturally-ventilated garage."

"The requirements of the fire department are involved, as well, as they stipulate that fires in this type of garage are to be fought from the outside," Moulton's letter said. "The two-foot slits and the amount of wall surface completely blocked up have caused them concern as they would like to see more open space."

The letter added that the prevailing winds in warm weather are from west to east, and would cause the fumes to escape through a wall not facing the Prescott Street building.

However, Alan H. Kaufman, another of the building's tenants, decided two weeks ago that the case merited further investigation.

Kaufman said that he called Francis J. Connelly, Deputy Chief in Charge of Fire Prevention, and read him Moulton's letter. According to Kaufman, Connelly denied the letter's assertions about fire regulations.

Yesterday, Connelly confirmed Kaufman's report.

"To begin with, we don't talk about fighting fires from the outside," Connelly said. "What is more, I don't recall having a discussion about slits in the walls. I think we have been misunderstood."

"I told Kaufman essentially the same thing as I told you," Connelly added. "I would just as soon see a plain blank wall on that (the tenants') side of the garage."