Plans for Allston To Be Revealed in June

The much anticipated mid-2011 recommendations outlining the future of Harvard’s development in Allston will be released this June, according to Bill Purcell, co-chair of the Harvard Allston Work Team—which is writing the recommendations.

“I think it’s about time because they have had time to get their ideas together, stabilize their budget, and figure out what their priorities are,” said Harvard Allston Task Force Member Ray Mellone.

The Work Team—a 14-person group of deans, alumni, and faculty members—was commissioned by University President Drew G. Faust in December 2009 to develop proposals for Harvard’s developments in the neighborhood. Faust charged the work team, also chaired by Harvard Business School Professor Peter Tufano ’79 and Graduate School of Design Professor Alex Krieger, to collect input from Allston residents.

But residents say they feel the group has not communicated enough with them, and many were unaware that recommendations would be released next month.

“The work team, as far as I know, has been completely closed to any participation,” said Task Force member Brent Whelan ’73.

The Task Force is composed of a group of Allston residents, which provide Harvard with feedback on its work in Allston.

“As a member of the Task Force, I had to ask for some formal participation ever since the team was appointed,” Whelan said.

Whelan recalled that two years ago, he and other community members partnered with a retired architect and urban planner to develop a viable way for moving the Charlesview Apartments—a cluster of low-income housing units located near the Business School.

While city leaders supported the plan, Harvard rejected it, he said.

Whelan noted that monthly coffee hours hosted by Purcell in the Ed Portal have allowed for community input. But both he and Task Force member Ray Mellone say they feel those hours were not sufficient.

“I’m not sure how far those ideas have penetrated [the Work Team’s] thinking,” Mellone said.

University Executive Vice President Katherine N. Lapp, who oversees the Work Team, said the group’s recommendations will be shared with the community and other stakeholders.

Neither Purcell nor Lapp would comment on the shape the recommendations will take or the nature of their content, because members had not yet finalized plans in their last meeting, Purcell said.

“My sense is that they will be tangible ideas, specific ideas,” Lapp said.

Allston community members say they are anxious to see a formal presentation and hope the University prioritizes Allston development.

“[We] want to make sure we’re not left out of the equation for the development they want to do in the future,” Mellone said. “We’ve been sitting in suspense for a year and a half.”

Residents say they have faith in Allston’s success and are open and willing to working in collaboration with Harvard.

“We believe in a strong community, not a devastated one,” Whelan said.

—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at tmerrigan@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Nathalie R. Miraval can be reached at nmiraval@college.harvard.edu.

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