As construction on the new wing of the Fogg Art Museum draws to a close, an old debate is reopening whether the University should be permitted to build an overhead footbridge connecting the two buildings.
Residents of the area, known as Mid Cambridge, have charged that a bridge spanning Broadway would reduce sun light, create a traffic hazard and in general detract from the aesthetics of the neighborhood.
University officials, however, say the connector will actually add to the appearance of the site, calling it "an architectural accent for the area where the neighborhood and the University meet."
"We wanted to work closely with the neighborhood to come up with a plan that was acceptable to people in the immediate area," said Philip Parsons, assistant director for operations at the Fogg.
In addition to meeting regularly with community members. Harvard last week sent a mailing to all Mid-Cambridge residents, giving details of the plan and listing the pros and cons of the bridge from perspectives of both the University and the neighborhood.
"It cost us roughly $2500 to do the mailing but it was well worth it," said Jacqucline O' Neill, associate vice president for state and community relations.
The mailing includes a letter from the Mid-Cambridge Neighborhood Association announcing an April 24 open meeting at which Fogg officials will present their plan to members of the community association.
Neighborhood residents have been satisfied with the dialogue between Harvard and the neighborhood, said Joan Lorentz, chairman of the Mid-Cambridge association.
"Our only concern now is whether Harvard and the Fogg will abide by the decision when out vote is taken," Lorentz added.
Lorentz said she is unsure how the vote will go next Tuesday, but said people have been "very much interested in the proceedings."
But the neighborhood's decision either way is non-binding. The final authority to grant approval rests with the Cambridge City Council, which will make a decision later this year after hearing both sides.
Architect James Stirling designed the Fogg extension formally known as the Arthur M. Sackler Museum--so that the building can function with or without the connector.
But University officials say the overhead bridge would enhance the safety of both museum visitors who would otherwise have to cross the busy Broadway intersection--as well as valuable works of art being transported from building to building.