Conflicting Reports on Substation

Boston and Harvard officials will distribute trash cans to stem infestation

The Harvard University Police Department said yesterday that it is not planning to close its Allston substation as a result of University-wide budget reductions—even though a HUPD sergeant seemed to suggest at an Allston construction management meeting Wednesday night that Harvard was considering such a move.

While HUPD is holding preliminary discussions to examine a number of potential cost-saving measures, “the safety and security of the people on our campus is HUPD’s primary concern” and will not be affected by budgetary changes, said University spokeswoman Lauren Marshall.

But at Wednesday’s meeting of the Construction Management Subcommittee for the Science Complex, Richard Mederos, HUPD’s sergeant of community policing, said closing the substation was on the table due to budget cuts, although officers would continue to patrol the area and maintain security.

The issue was first raised by local resident Edward A. Kotomori, who said he heard about the possibility from people near the Science Complex construction site. Joyce Radnor, another local resident, said she interpreted Mederos’ comments as suggesting that the substation would likely close.

She and Kotomori said at the meeting that they were concerned that the lack of a substation would lead to slower police response times in the neighborhood, and Michael F. Glavin, deputy director for institutional development for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, said that the University should provide a detailed security plan if it were to close the substation.

Medero could not be reached at his home last night for comment, and Stephen G. Catalano, a spokesman for HUPD, declined to comment beyond the University’s statement.

‘FOOLISHNESS OR HYSTERIA’?

Recent media coverage has drawn attention to Allston’s rat infestation, which some locals say was created by the excavation for Harvard’s Science Complex. But University and Boston officials as well as other local residents maintain that the rats long precede Harvard’s construction and say that the recent reports have unfairly characterized the situation in the neighborhood.

“The sensationalism and mythology around this...has stuck this issue with Harvard,” said Kevin A. McCluskey ’76, Harvard’s director of community relations for Boston, at Wednesday’s construction management meeting.

The University and the City are planning to address the rodent issue by providing local residents with tough plastic trash containers by the summer’s end to prevent rodent proliferation—not as a result of “any of this [recent] foolishness or hysteria,” McCluskey said at the meeting, but rather because it represented a “general quality of life issue” that Harvard felt it should address in accordance with its long-term partnership with the City.

While many residents contend that the rodent infestation results from irresponsible trash disposal practices, John Walsh and Tim McHale, longtime area residents, suggested that another explanation could be that some neighbors routinely rummage through street-side trash collecting bottle deposits, tearing open bags and leaving a trail of trash for rats in the process.

—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at pzhu@fas.harvard.edu.