Government Releases Library Report
Response to City's Complaints
The federal government issued this week a revised outline for the environmental study of the proposed John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, incorporating almost to the item recommendations made by the Harvard Square Task Force.
In an abrupt reversal, the General Services Administration (GSA) rewrote significant sections of the so-called Scope of Work Report, apparently changing the outline's tenor from its often-attacked pro-Kennedy stance to an impartial position.
Construction of the Kennedy Library has been delayed while the federal government prepares an Environmental Impact Statement in accordance with guidelines set by the Council on Environmental Quality.
The scope of work report is the initial step in the year-long environmental study of the library complex which includes the presidential archives, a museum, the Kennedy Institute of Politics, a Harvard office building and a three-acre site for commercial development.
Robert T. Griffin, special assistant to the administrator of the GSA, said last month that the outline would be sent at least 15 consultants who may submit bids to conduct the actual environmental study.
The GSA will negotiate a contract in early January, starting the long process of drafting an environmental impact statement, and getting community and expert comment on it, before finally completing the study in September 1974.
Local citizens and the task force complained bitterly about the first draft of the Scope of Work Report when it was presented to Cambridge in September.
The task force said the report was biased and incomplete and did not adequately provide for the nature of the library as a tourist attraction.
In a ten-page letter to Griffin in October, the task force listed point-by-point its objections to the original scope of work report.
At the request of the task force, the new outline includes an introduction explaining the results a 1973 court case which established standards for environmental impact statements.
The court stressed that the environmental study must include a "detailed" discussion of the environmental impact and adverse environmental effects of the proposed project as well as a discussion of alternatives to the project.
The list of alternatives to the proposed construction now includes locating the library at another site, not building the library at all, reducing the size of the library, locating the museum at another site, not building the museum, and reducing the size.
Members of the task force received copies of the Scope of Work Report yesterday, but most had not read the 24-page packet last night.
Oliver Brooks, chairman of the task force, said he would have no comment until after the full task force met next week to discuss the new report.
Donald C. Moulton, assistant vice president for government and community affairs and a task force member, said yesterday, "The fact that the GSA in-corporated some suggestions is a positive step showing they are able to take critical comments and address themselves to them."
Gladys P. Gifford, a member of the task force, said last night after reading the GSA report, "It looks like it was taken verbatim from our letter."
"The outline appears to be a very straightforward attempt to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act," she said. "It is important that the GSA is telling the consultant to work with the community and to look at the alternatives of a smaller library and a library without a museum."
Other notable modifications in the new outline include:
I Adding a section on the impact of the library on low-income populations;
I Adding a section on the "psychological, physiological and sociological impact of visitors upon those living or working in the area;"
I Adding a section on the ecology of the Charles River;
I Changing slanted wording such as "justification for parking solution" to unbiased wording like "Parking considerations;"
I Adding "concerned citizen groups" to a list of organizations the consultants should confer with;
I Adding a section about the related facilities site where condominium apartments, a hotel, a parking garage, and commercial frontage have all been considered for development;
I Omitting mention of the Kennedy Library's relation with the public school system; and,
I Adding a section to analyze whether the library will conform with the federal, state and local land-use plans