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Architect William Galvin's suggestion to turn Cambridge Common into an open parking lot has roused angry protests. Some of the local students, residents, and hotels object to the desecration of a historic site, and the city itself is extremely skeptical about the idea.
But, historical considerations aside, the proposal indicates the acuteness of the local parking problem, both daytime and nighttime. With the steady growth in the number of automobiles, congestion in the Harvard Square area--which was never designed to handle 54,000 vehicles daily--has become worse. If nothing is done to uncrowd the area, students will be forced gradually to park their cars further and further away. Moreover, if the congestion and parking difficulty persist, other shopping centers will draw business away from local stores. This would mean a loss of revenue to the area.
The Cambridge Planning Board has made several proposals for the immediate future. Those include opening the municipal parking lot at Eliot Square for night use, and getting businesses to confine their deliveries to early morning and late evening hours. But the only permanent solution lies in such projects as extension of the subway to North Cambridge, construction of a municipal garage, and extension of the Concord Pike out to Lechmere.
In the debate over the parking problem, the University has not assumed any degree of leadership. Although Harvard contributes 2,100 of the 6,400 cars parked in the vicinity of the Square every day, it has not shared responsibility for clearing up the parking tangle. The opening of the Business School lot was a make-shift solution that has not solved the main problem.
M.I.T., on the other hand, has a long-range planning committee made up of the heads of its city planning department and other officials. The group discusses problems that are likely to arise in the future in connection with the university's program of expansion. The same sort of program at Harvard may be the best way to get results on both the short and long-range aspects of parking.
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