JFK Library: The Controversy Continues
Neighborhood Ten last spring raised more than $10,000 to finance a legal battle to stop construction of the John F. Kennedy Library in Cambridge. This spring the group will spend those funds in an attempt to discredit the environmental impact statement and block construction of the library.
The impact statement, released on January 6, called the environmental effects of the library on Harvard Square "negligible." The next day, Helen Keyes of the Library Corporation said the report showed there are no "insurmountable problems" to starting work on the library.
But Gerald Gillerman '49, lawyer for the Harvard Square Development Task Force in court today will call upon the General Services Administration to release the original documents prepared by C.E. Maguire, the consultant firm which aided the GSA in making up the report.
Maguire conducted all the research for the impact statement and forwarded its results to the GSA, which edited the Maguire material and produced the draft report.
As part of his case, Gillerman will present correspondence showing that Stephen Smith, head of the Kennedy Library Corporation, reviewed the documents that the GSA has refused to show Cambridge civic groups.
The disclosure that Smith screened the documents before their release may destroy the credibility of the draft report. Many residents will reason that if Smith previewed part of the report before release, the GSA and the Kennedy Corporation may have colluded to produce a report favorable to the library.
The question of a whitewash will be settled, however, only if Neighborhood 10-wins its suit and the original Maguire documents are released.
Five community groups--including the task force and Neighborhoods Eight, Nine and Ten--have joined to form the Committee to Protect the Environment (COPE). They hope to present a united front on the Kennedy Library issue and are hatching plans to make their opposition to the report and to the library heard.
Barring a court-ordered extension, "interested parties" have until March 6 to comment on the draft impact statement and may speak at public hearings scheduled for February 13.
Under the law, the GSA must respond with "reasoned analysis" to all criticism of the draft environmental impact statement.
During the next several weeks, both Harvard and the community groups will be preparing the analysis of the impact statement.
While waiting for the hearing to deliver their critique, the community groups have indicated that they are outraged by a report that claims an influx of a million visitors a year will have only minimal effects on the Square. Two major newspapers, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe have condemned the draft statement as absurd.
Supporters of the library had hoped the report would end the library controversy and clear the way for immediate construction. But opponents may so completely destroy the credibility of the GSA document that plans for the library will be no further along than they were ten years ago, when developers were first looking lot a site.