Cambridge's Vellucci Examines Harvard Land As Possible Site for New High School Track

Cambridge Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci yesterday inspected the land between the Science Center and the Yard for possible use as a high school track.

The city has let Harvard maintain the land and determine how to use it, but Cambridge has the right to reclaim the property anytime, city solicitor Russell B. Higley said yesterday.

Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, said yesterday that as far as he knows, the land belongs to Harvard.

Parking Lot Plan

Steiner described the plan as "about the equivalent of Mayor Vellucci's proposal to turn Harvard Yard into a parking lot."

Vellucci's search for a track was prompted by the appeal of Elizabeth O'Brian, Cambridge High and Latin School's student representative to the School Committee at its Monday night meeting.

Vellucci could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Neither Cambridge Latin nor Rindge Technical High School have tracks. Track team members presently practice on the streets around their schools and in the schools' corridors. There is no practice space for field events such as the javelin, the discus, or the hammer.

The two schools currently play all of their meets at their opponent's facilities.

The proposed track would be an oval enclosed by a fence.

Sarah Mae Berman, a School Committee member and chairman of the committee's subcommittee on athletics, who accompanied Vellucci on his inspection of the land said yesterday that "the effort was to dramatize that we are really hard-pressed for time."

Berman added that she was not very serious about procuring the land, but that she supports the proposal because it will bring public attention to the lack of open space in Cambridge.

Donald C. Moulton, assistant vice president for community affairs, said yesterday that there are unutilized pieces of land in Cambridge that the city could use for a track facility. Moulton mentioned Kendall Square as a possible site.

Moulton added that the lack of high school athletic facilities is a serious matter, but that there are many ways to solve the problem other than the "impractical solution" of building a track in front of the Science Center.

A spokesman for the Cambridge school department said yesterday that Vellucci requested that Berman consult with the superintendent of schools and the city's planning department to determine if there were other alternatives within the city.

Francis McCarthy, Rindge Tech's track coach, attributes his team's 1-4 record to the lack of practice space. "We can't practice the field events very well, so we're usually down about 20 points even before we begin the meet," McCarthy said yesterday.

Even with the dearth of facilities, Rindge has some track stars. One of them, Roberto E. Cooper holds the indoor high jump record for Massachusetts schoolboys, and won the Class D high jumping championships this year.

"I practice inside, over at Cambridge Latin," Cooper said yesterday. "I think I could do better with good facilities because I can't take the good strides inside because it's too small.