Harvard To Open Ed Center in Allston

Harvard pledged to open an educational center in Allston by this spring that will provide free math and science tutoring to area residents. The center is one of the community benefits being offered as the University comes closer to breaking ground on its new campus across the river.

The educational center, planned for 175 North Harvard St., will provide at least 100 hours per month of tutoring and lectures for any interested students and adults in Allston.

The announcement at a meeting of the Harvard Allston Task Force last night came one week before the city is expected to approve the University’s science complex project. It also came less than a month after Massachusetts State Rep. Michael J. Moran submitted a proposal calling on Harvard to establish and fund a school in the neighborhood by September 2009 that would provide kindergarten through 12th grade classes.

Kathy A. Spiegelman, the University’s chief planner, said that Harvard “thought the thing that was really most important for us tonight was to pull together all the information we’ve received on community benefits.”

The cornerstone of Harvard’s proposed benefits hinge on $25 million in educational and economic enhancements to the neighborhood over the next 10 years.

These benefits will ultimately be incorporated into a legally binding document that will be signed by the University and the Boston Redevelopment Authority—the agency responsible for overseeing development projects in the city—before construction can begin.

While residents said they appreciated the benefits being proposed by Harvard, some said that they felt the community has not done an adequate job of expressing its desires to the University.

“They’re Harvard’s proposals, not our proposals,” said Bruce Houghton, a member of task force. “They might meet your goals, but what are our goals?”

But Spiegelman said that the University’s benefits proposal was heavily influenced by requests made by the task force earlier this year.

Task force member Cathleen Campbell said that what the University proposed was not as important as whether or not the initiatives would be long lasting.

“As long as Harvard is in this community, those benefits have to continue to be given to this community,” she said. “I want to know 100 years from now that people are receiving the benefits that we negotiated.”

Other benefits proposed by University officials included increasing the number of Extension School scholarships and offering vocational training to residents.

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