Officials Face Concerns Over Allston Expansion

Residents fear loss of local landmarks due to proposed art museum

Harvard officials defended their plans for the campus expansion into Allston at a meeting last night, facing an onslaught of complaints from residents—ranging from what to do with a local Dunkin’ Donuts to how to sort out residential concerns about privacy and traffic during construction.

The meeting’s discussions, which took place at St. Anthony’s School in Allston, centered on the University’s plan to erect an art museum at the intersection of North Harvard Street and Western Avenue—known to residents as Barry’s Corner.

If the plan is approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority—the agency that oversees the city’s construction and renewal projects—construction could begin as early as this summer.

But late last month, the Allston residents who sit on the Harvard-Allston Task Force submitted comments to the agency stating that the museum project should not be approved in its current form.

The letter cited several concerns, particularly the size of the museum’s location, to explain why the task force sought to delay approval of the project.

“Harvard has the resources of land, money, and art to build a world-class museum in Allston,” the members wrote in the letter. “Barry’s Corner and Boston should settle for nothing less.”

But Harvard University Art Museums Director Thomas W. Lentz said the art museum would be beneficial for the community as well as the University.

“In this case, we think that academic and public interest are not at all incompatible,” he said. “We fully intend to be a welcoming presence here—we want to be a good neighbor in Allston.”

According to Lentz, the art museum would be equally dedicated to public use, artwork storage, and office and research spaces for Harvard faculty.

He added that coordinated visits with local schools and workshops in print-making and photography would also benefit the community.

Residents nevertheless still questioned the choice for the museum’s location.

“It appears that this is a great-looking building, but it’s just too big for the site you’re looking to build it on,” said Allston resident Paul Alford.

But another resident, Tim McHale, said that for Harvard’s expansion into Allston to succeed, individuals on both sides need to keep an open mind.

“We have to look out for each other,” he said. “We want you to succeed because your success is our success, and I think our success is your success.”

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

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