Task Force Supports Review

The Harvard-Allston Task Force voiced its support for the Boston Redevelopment Authority board review of the 28 Travis Street Project at the task force meeting Tuesday. The proposal passed by a vote of seven to two.

On Thursday, the BRA will review Harvard’s plan to move mailroom services, Harvard University Information Technology, Harvard University Police Department training, recycling and storage, and “fleet management services” from 219 Western Avenue to 28 Travis Street in North Allston.

The task force’s support for the proposal came only after the inclusion of the first phase of construction of Rena Park, a public space adjacent to the Travis Street facility, into the project plan. The addition of Rena Park represented the most recent amendment to a plan that has been discussed by Harvard, the task force, Allston community members, and the BRA for months.

If the proposal passes BRA review, Harvard will construct the 28 Travis Street facility before the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year.

“I think this is a foundation upon which we can build,” said Kevin Casey, Harvard’s associate vice president for public affairs and communications.

Although the task force passed the proposal, some task-force members expressed their support for the 28 Travis Street project as more of a practical compromise than an enthusiastic endorsement.

Task force member Bruce E. Houghton suggested supporting the proposal as a way for the task force and the Allston community to save face in anticipation of future disputes with Harvard over its developments in Allston.

“You fought a battle, and you won part of the battle,” Houghton said at the meeting, referring to the University’s commitment to begin construction of Rena Park. “If you fight from this point forward you lose the future… I’ve got to say that the strategy now should be to fight the IMP.”

Some of the people attending the meeting remained in direct opposition to the Travis Street relocation.

“These uses are not appropriate, period, and we don’t want them here at all,” task force member Brent C. Whelan ’73 said. “I don’t see how we’ll ever be proud of a shooting range at 28 Travis Street,” he said, referencing the HUPD training facility slated to move there.

Tuesday’s task force meeting also focused on the construction of a residential and retail commons at the intersection of Western Avenue and North Harvard Street, also known as Barry’s Corner [LINK 1].

Leslie Cohen, senior vice president of development at Samuels & Associates, the firm Harvard has partnered with for this development, detailed the project for the task force and community members in response to 18 comment letters.

Allston residents were mainly concerned with issues of parking and traffic resulting from the influx of new residents to the neighborhood with the construction of 325 residential units. Residents also expressed a desire to see more explicit community benefits written into the development plan.

—Staff writer Marco J. Barber Grossi can be reached at mbarbergrossi@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter @marco_jbg.

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