Commitment to Old Allston Plans in Flux

University officials say they continue to consider the conditions of previous agreements they made with the City of Boston before the December halt of construction on the Allston Science Complex in brainstroming plans for Harvard’s development in the neighborhood.

University Executive Vice President Katharine N. Lapp, who oversees Harvard’s expansion into Allston, said she and the faculty-led work team continue to use the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s 2005 document “North Allston: Strategic Framework for Planning” as a “guidepost.”

She specifically mentioned the plan to turn Western Avenue into the “main street” of the neighborhood.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority maintains Harvard is still responsible for all the commitments it made to the city, even after the halt of construction on the Science Complex, the roughly $1 billion project that represented the first component of Harvard’s ambitious 50-year plan to construct an extension of its campus across the Charles River.

“Harvard continues to be responsible for the conditions and commitments contained within the cooperation agreement for the Science Complex development and any commitments that remain in force from existing campus plan approvals,” the Authority’s spokeswoman Jessica Shumaker wrote in an e-mailed statement. “Their current master plan is in effect until 2012. President Faust stated in December of last year that the campus plan for Allston will be updated by 2012,” she wrote.

But residents say that they have not seen a clear indication that Harvard is sticking to its promises.

Allston resident Harry Mattison, who serves on the Harvard Allston Task Force, cited unfulfilled commitments to create new housing units, bring jobs to the neighborhood, and  bring a subway stop to Barry’s Corner.

Mattison added that he understands that University’s finances have changed, but said Harvard should be more communicative with the neighborhood about its plans.

“It would certainly be wonderful if Harvard and  the community could get together to refresh and update and revise the list of community improvements it said it would bring to the neighborhood,” Mattison said.

Allston resident Bruce Houghton echoed these sentiments.

“The Task Force is no longer meeting since the cancellation of the science complex,” Houghton said. “Since then there’s [been] no real format for doing reasonable communication and I’m not sure its happening at all. We’re  looking all up from here.”

—Staff writer Sofia E. Groopman can be reached at segroopm@fas.harvard.edu.

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