University To Unveil Expansion Plans

Allston residents wary of Harvard's Plans for Future Growth

Hoping to quell Allston residents’ fears of University expansion, Harvard officials promised to present a short master plan forecasting development as far into the future as 2057.

Up until now Harvard has provided information to residents project by project, the latest an architect’s rendition of the four-building science complex to house stem cell research.

At Monday’s Harvard-Allston Task Force meeting at the Honan-Allston Branch Library, Harvard officials said the master plan would be available on the Web site of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) by the end of this week.

But some in the crowd of nearly 100 still weren’t pleased with the information Harvard plans to provide.

Harvard-Allston Task Force member Millie H. McLaughlin was among those present who voiced concerns about the plan.

“At what point will Harvard stop aggressively looking to buy property?” she asked. “Or is this just going to go on until there’s nothing left of us?”

But according to Harris S. Band, Harvard’s director of physical planning, the master plan is intended to provide a more comprehensive look at the University’s development plans.

“It’s intended to provide enough predictability about, not just a five year period, but a 20 and in fact a 50 year period,” he said. “It’s much, much more informative than a traditional master plan.”

Last fall, the University submitted project notification forms for the science complex and contemporary art museum to the BRA for review.

According to BRA Senior Project Manager Gerald Autler, the BRA will give Harvard later this week a scoping determination—a document that reviews the impact of construction on parking and road control issues.

If the University meets all of the requirements, it could begin to lay the foundation for the science complex as early as this June.

Community members were still concerned with the possibility of the University expanding into Allston for at least another half century and a list of several properties purchased over the last couple months, including private homes and a car lot, whose purpose has yet to be determined.

Paul Alford, an Allston resident who said he has attended every task force meeting since April, said he wants Harvard to be successful but is worried about how quickly the plans for the science complex are progressing.

“It’s the big print that gives us stuff, and it’s the little print that take it away,” he said. “I think it’s important that we be very careful to watch all the ‘i’s and all the ‘t’s.”

For Autler of the BRA, maintaining a dialogue is important to ensure both sides of the river are pleased with the development.

“That’s what this process is all about,” Autler said. “To get this out in the open and see if there is middle ground or compromises or if Harvard can make the case for what they want to do.”

—Staff writer Laura A. Moore can be reached at lamoore@fas.harvard.edu.