The Library and the City

The following are excerpts from the draft environmental impact statement on the Kennedy Library released yesterday by the General Services Administration:

The predominant influences which are mentioned in these observations of Harvard Square are the diversity of its users and their activities within the physical urban framework of the Square itself. An evaluation of these various components can provide the criterion against which impacts are measured.

Quality of Life

Many groups and individuals, principally those who live near or frequent Harvard Square are concerned that an influx of tourists attracted by the museum portion of the Library will contribute traffic noise and air pollution to what they consider an already congested situation.

Among the concerns expressed in this regard especially at the Environmental Impact Statement Workshops include the following:

* Visitor automobiles will add to traffic congestion, noise and air pollution.

* Added pedestrians will crowd the sidewalks, shops and restaurants.

* Parking, already a major problem, will become even worse.

* Tourist business, and rising rents will cause a change in the retail and service aspect of the Square from community/regional orientation to tourist orientation.

* A combination of the above conditions would tend to cause current users of the Square to stay away, thus changing its existing character.

Land Values and Speculation

This concern is expressed most often by groups within whose neighborhoods there has been increasing expansion by Harvard University (e.g., Riverside, Cambridgeport, Mid-Cambridge), as well as by residents of neighborhoods adjacent to Harvard Square where many new developments have been proposed.

Groups in these neighborhoods have expressed the concern that a development of the magnitude of the JFK Library will trigger other speculation for land for supporting uses (motels, etc.) which will cause the price of land to increase so that real estate is beyond the reach of low and middle-income residents. This increase in land values will also have the effect of pushing rents higher.

Many persons feel that Harvard is using the Library in order to justify its own expansion. Nearby Neighborhood Disturbance

Residents of neighborhoods bordering the site (Neighborhood Ten, Riverside) are particularly concerned that the quiet residential sidestreets will be disturbed by traffic caused by Library visitors who will also compete for the few on-street parking spaces.

Open Space and the Charles River

Many residents of Cambridge feel that the Library complex is another obstruction between the Cambridge community and the Charles River. Although the revised design with the walk-through Commonwealth Plaza placated some fears, many still feel that traffic and people which would accompany the Library would discourage residents from using the riverbanks.

Lower income persons in Riverside/Cambridgeport see the Library as part of a development trend along the river which would eventually cut off their communities entirely from the river.

The concern has also been expressed that Cambridge is sorely lacking in open space recreational uses and that every effort should be made to expand it, including using the MBTA site.

Municipal Services

There seems to be a general communitywide feeling that the City would have to provide services directly to the Library as well as services or facilities needed because of extra burden imposed on the community as a result of the Library (e.g., road widening, traffic signals).

Since the facility would be tax-exempt and there are no plans for tax generating uses on the KLC owned land, it is feared that taxes will increase for other Cambridge residents to pay the costs of these services.

Alternate Uses

Although individual preferences have run the full gamut of uses for the land, the alternative which seems to be most agreeable to most groups is the locating of the Library and Archives on the MBTA site and the Museum outside of Cambridge.

A group of Library proponents have indicated that they feel the Library/Museum complex would be the most feasible use for the site.

Cultural Advantage/Image

Some of the community groups feel that the cultural nature of the Library and Museum will be a benefit to Cambridge and will improve the image of Harvard Square. At least one group feels that the real issue is whether their children will have the Museum to visit.

Summary/Quality of Life

The impacts upon the quality of life in Harvard Square resulting from the construction and operation of the John F. Kennedy Library have been the subject of considerable speculation and debate. If one describes the quality of life in Harvard Square as an experience, an image, built up of a body of various experience and images significant and meaningful to the people who regularly visit the Square some conclusions can be drawn as to the impacts resulting from the construction of the Library. Subjective analysis of the empirical data presented throughout this statement reveals that the circulation, use characteristics and physical amenities of Harvard Square will not be significantly altered. The Library's design and program fit into the surroundings better than any of the other reasonable alternative uses of the site except for use by Harvard for University expansion. The incremental increase (except on Sundays) to pedestrian and vehicle circulation volumes will be so small that it is improbable that they will impact upon the quality of life in Harvard Square. Rather than threatening the present quality of life in Harvard Square the Library's low intensity of development of the site (81,000 square feet vs. a presently permitted 1.97 million square feet) and creation of a five acre park will enhance the setting and architectural theme of the area between the Charles and the Common.


Mode of arrival to the Kennedy Library will be primarily by automobile, non-scheduled bus and public transportation. On an average year basis an estimated 65.4 per cent of visitors will arrive by automobile, 8.6 per cent by public transportation, 23.9 per cent by non-scheduled bus (charter bus, tour bus and school bus) and 2.1 per cent by other means, including walking, taxi, and bicycle. Those visitors arriving by automobile include those who are passengers and those who are in rental cars. These estimates were derived by segregating the market segments on a monthly basis and origin basis and applying a mode split to the various market segments; i.e., SMSA residents, including school children in groups, will have a modal split of 35.4 per cent automobile, 22.5 per cent non-scheduled bus and 6.5 per cent other mode. It is estimated that visitors to the SMSA will have an arrival pattern to the facility of 73 per cent by automobile, 10 per cent by public transportation, 15 per cent by non-scheduled bus and two per cent other mode. Applying figures of 94 per cent automobile, one per cent public transportation and five per cent non-scheduled bus (excluding school groups) to the other market sectors results in the overall yearly mode split.

Nearly four out of ten visitors are likely to arrive during the summer months when the impact of university population activity levels are at their lowest. Approximately one-third of the visitors are expected during the weekends when employment related traffic and other activities are greatly reduced. During a given day, a great many visitors are likely to avoid peak traffic, although nearly 65 per cent of the visitors will use their automobile as a mode of arrival. However, a trip to the Library being more of a family affair, "cars" on an average will carry 3.5 persons, an occupancy rate almost double the average all-purpose trip rate. All of these estimates are primarily applicable to the stable year visitation which is the only significant estimate with long-term effect.

In summary, it can be concluded that, on a May weekday from 4 to 5 p.m. (a time during which the area experiences its highest total existing traffic flow), even the highest projection of Library generated traffic will not have a measurable effect on the traffic operations of any individual roadway or the entire street network. On an August Saturday the increase in total traffic due to the Library is more pronounced, but since the combined traffic volumes on the entire network will still be lower than the existing volumes on a typical non-summer Saturday, minimal effect on intersection operations can be expected. On Sundays, although higher increments of Library generated traffic are predicted than on Saturdays, minimal effect is expected since Sunday base volumes are even lower than those on Saturdays.

Therefore, on the basis of the foregoing discussion and the conclusions found for the peak year, it is clear that the additional traffic due to the Library cannot be expected to have any measurable impacts on traffic operations in the area during the stable years. If the highest visitor projection for the stable year (1,030,000) were considered, there would still not be any noticeable effect since this would change the Library volume increments by only about 10 per cent and the total traffic by about 1 per cent. This falls well within the limits of sensitivity for the Library traffic projections which can be expected to vary by a factor of 20 per cent plus or minus.

Transportation Impact/Vehicular Traffic & Circulation

Although the Library visitors will generate, at most, minimal adverse traffic impacts, this document presents a local circulation improvement plan for the site vicinity. This plan provides for better circulation of the incremental as well as existing traffic. It provides for the removal of less than 25 metered parking spaces. The implementation of such a plan would require further detailed analysis by the City.

Finally, the traffic volumes generated by the Library will not superimpose peaks on the existing volumes but rather occur on non-peak periods. Furthermore, in an effort to meet the modified EPA air quality standards, the City will have to work with regional agencies to change the existing traffic patterns. The increase in traffic due to the Library visitors is not likely to hamper such an effort.

Projected Non-Library Parking Demand

An analysis of the Harvard Square parking situation, in general, indicates deficiencies in supply, location and kinds of parking available. Currently, there is an estimated need of 1,500 parking spaces in the Harvard Square area. At the time of maximum accumulation it is estimated that nearly 30 per cent of the vehicles are illegally parked. The underlying cause of illegal and overtime parking is apparent space shortage. The relatively high turnover of illegal spaces in Harvard Square indicates that most of the need is for shortterm spaces. Illegal parking on streets is not only disruptive of vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian flow but to many it is a source of visual blight.

The net incremental parking demand generated by the Library visitors will be entirely satisfied by the on-site and satellite parking facilities.

During the stable year parking demands for the visitors will be met by the on-site parking lot with the exception of less than 20 operating days. During the peak year satellite parking will be required for about 70 days. These totals may be further reduced by adjustments in the operating schedule of the Library.

The parking demand analysis is again based upon relatively high estimates of the expected visitors and therefore, on-site parking facilities may fulfill all the visitor related demands. Provision has been made, however, for satellite parking. It is noted that the City of Cambridge is planning to use a city dump site for a parking facility during the bicentennial period.

The existing parking shortages and additional parking requirements for the City of Cambridge is being currently examined by its Planning Department. Their current proposals such as one on Nutting Road for 500 parking spaces addresses their problem. This and other similar proposals were examined during the EIS process although such an analysis extends beyond the scope of this statement. The progress made by the City to date and their future implementation plan will contribute to a solution of the parking problem of the City as envisioned by the City officials.

Public Transit

The rapid transit stations at Harvard Square (Red Line) is the third busiest in the entire system. However, the number of boarders is below the capacity of the station. The operating hours and schedules of the fixed rail Red Line, are efficient enough to meet the present and future demands of Cambridge and its surrounding areas.

The Cambridge Planning and Development Department has estimated that about 2,250 Library visitors might use the Harvard Square station during summer days. Tourists from outside the Boston Metropolitan area are likely to drive to the site and will probably not use the public transportation system. These auto oriented tourist volumes will probably occur between the morning and evening peak rushhour work-trips.

Stable Year Impact

In terms of total numbers, the greatest number of pedestrians attributable to the Library would occur on summer Saturdays. During the course of an average summer Saturday, it is estimated that some 1,800 people would be added to the core area. Assuming that 75 per cent of the existing pedestrian activity level in the Square would take place during the period that the Library was open, the percentage increase during that time due to the Library would be approximately 4 per cent. Since the peak Saturday pedestrian load occurs in the early afternoon hours for both the existing shopping activity and for projected Library visitation, the peak hour percentage increment would be of the same magnitude (4%). On the Library's peak summer Saturday, the increment would be about 7 per cent.

Economic Impact

The total amount of the incremental retail activity generated by the John F. Kennedy Library is estimated to be $1.87 million per year. This total dollar voume is distributed among categories such as gifts, souvenirs, food and beverages, restaurants, specialty goods and hotel/motel accommodations. Of these total dollars nearly $1.1 million are likely to be spent within the Harvard Square area. When compared to currently experienced retail sales volume of the Harvard Square area, this represnts less than 2 per cent change in the retail dollar volume within the Harvard Square retail market is nearly 15 per cent per annum. The change in dollar volume generated by the Library therfore is insignificant. Furthermore, the change in dollar voume by each of the subcategories is also insignificant as discussed within this section.

During the peak year, the dollar volume of the sales may increase to 1.6 million within the Harvard Square Area. When measured in terms of the current Harvard Square dollar sales, this does not represent a significant impact.

Finally, minor changes in hours of operations for the businesses within the square and some changes in their merchandising practices could be anticipated as they attempt to attract the Library visitors.

Convenience Food Outlets and Restaurants

It would appear difficult for a developer to justify any new restaurant or food service construction solely on the basis of revenues generated by Library visitors and users. This does not mean that certain types of convenience food outlets would not flourish in Harvard Square if they were permited to open operations there. In the past five years there have been several instances where national or regional chain operations replaced privately owned restaurants in the vicinity of the Square, and pressures to continue in this direction might well be accelerated by the presence of the Library or even the anticipation of its coming.

The expected increase in Harvard Square visitors due to the bicentennial may encourage one or more chain operations to seek location in the immediate vicinity.

Land Use

The nature and extent of the economic activities generated by the John F. Kennedy Library, are not likely to produce any land use related changes. The net increase in retail sales volume generated by the Library is not likely to induce new restaurant food faclility development in itself because of its seasonal nature, although market forces other than those generated by the Library could induce additional food facilities. No direct office space demand is generated by the Library. The demand for hotel/motel rooms is insufficient to support a new facility of a financially feasible nature. The housing demand created by the Library is minimal and is based upon the assumption that some of the National Archives and Records Service employees of Waltham would prefer to resettle near the Library site.

No major land use changes are anticipated as a result of the Library itself.

The objective of the impact analysis was to evaluate the maximum carbon monoxide levels which could arise as a consequence of both adverse meteorological conditions and peak roadway traffic. Although motor vehicles are also major contributors to community nitrogen oxides and reactive hydrocarbon emissions, these species participate in a series of complex photochemical reactions for which the current atmospheric diffusion modeling technology does not permit preparation of reliable estimates of projected concentration levels. Therefore, emphasis was placed principally on carbon monoxide concentration levels as this pollutant is relatively inert. In addition, carbon monoxide is the pollutant emitted in the largest quantities from automotive sources and possesses the greatest potential for exceeding Federal and Massachusetts air quality standards.

For all cases, predicted carbon monoxide levels will be within air quality standards established by the State and Federal Authorities. The small incremental increase in traffic induced by the project will have an insignificant effect on the attainment and maintenance of such standards. Thus, the project is consistent with the State Implementation Plan developed to insure the attainment of air quality standards required under the Federal Clean Air Act of 1970.

The existing ambient noise is determined largely by street traffic, with the most annoying noise intrusions being produced mainly by trucks and buses. The most significant likely moise contribution by Library activity is from visitor access road vehicles. Shuttle buses for the satellite parking lot and tour buses represent the main potential source of Library related vehicular noise.

The best documented and most tangible adverse effect of environmental noise upon human activity is speech interference. Noise levels below 60 dBA interfere very little with conversational interference occurs above 70 dBA. In the community around the Library site, existing outdoor day-time 10-percentile noise levels range 51-78 dBA, depending on location and day of the week. The 10 percentile daytime noise levels for 17 sampling locations averaged 71 dBA during weekday peak traffic hours, and 67 dBA on Sunday afternoons. Thus the area is already fairly noisy.

The projected Library-related traffic is expected to increase the afore-mentioned average noise levels in the peak year of visitation to 72 dBA during weekday peak hours and 71 dBA on Sunday afternoons. These noise increases of 1-4 dBA are hardly significant but must be considered in the context that noise levels are already high enough (above 70 dBA) to cause significant interference with conversational speech in many outdoor areas.

The projected adverse noise effects are not major but every effort should be made to minimize them. Possible approaches include: encourage visitors to travel by subway; provide carefully conceived street signing to minimize unnecessary "lost" traffic; shuttle and tour buses should be as quiet as possible with direct routing avoiding particularly noise sensitive areas; design and construct the building mechanical systems to prevent excessive noise; construction specifications to prevent excessive noise, particularly from pile driving.

The Library should have at least one beneficial noise impact: the site is not expected to be as noisy as the wheel squeals and banging sounds produced by present MBTA operations