City Threatens to Snag Harvard Land

Cambridge Mayor Leonard J. Russell may throw a wrench into Harvard's plans for developing the site of an old elementary school it recently purchased about one-half mile northwest of Radcliffe Yard.

Russell said he wants the City to exercise its right of eminent domain, snatch the Concord Ave. property from the University at market cost, and build public housing for the elderly or low-income families.

Harvard, however, wants to keep the property it bought from Lesley College for $1.4 million to expand two of its most rapidly growing women's studies resources: the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library and the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute.

No Expansion

Russell said last night in an interview that he wanted to "stop the expansion of MIT and Harvard into Cambridge's neighborhoods. We wanted to let Harvard know how we feel before plans are drawn and they get settled in too fast."

Adding that the former Lesley Ellis School was "an ideal spot" for senior citizen housing because it is near public transportation and Harvard Square, the first-term mayor said there are no other such housing facilities in the area for old people.

Russell asked the City Manager to confer with the Cambridge Housing Authority to see if that municipal office has the $1.4 million to buy the Concord Ave. property.

The motion was postponed a week by City Councilor Francis H. Duehay '55. Duehay, a resident of Mid-Cambridge, postponed the mayor's action until next week "for a period of reflection" and to consult with key members of the neighborhood.

"Nobody in that area has been asked what they want," Duehay said, adding that Cantabrigians need time to decide whether a Harvard building or public housing would be more acceptable there.

Bunting Director Margaret A. McKenna said last night that Harvard will probably wait and see what the city's next move would be.

Russell's demand for public housing comes just one month after City Councilor Alfred E. Vellucci requested Harvard to donate the Craigie Arms apartment building on Mt. Auburn St. for low-income housing. Harvard has not responded yet.