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Sullivan May Block Charles River By Submerging Large, Ugly Barge

By Bruce L. Paisner

John Briston Sullivan, the Cambridge real estate developer who threatened the University last year with his building-on-stilts proposal, is planning to sink a tremendous, ugly barge in the Charles River just below M.I.T.

The boat would block motorboat traffic on the River and dramatically resolve a four-year battle Sullivan has waged with the Charles River Yacht Club and the Metropolitan District Commission.

Last week Sullivan sailed the barge up the Charles and tied it to the river-wall next to the Yacht Club. At that time, officials said the boat, which has a perimeter of 131 feet, is the largest ever to come through the Boston locks.

The barge remained tied to the wall, and Sullivan became the "mystery man of Cambridge" as the entire city wondered what he planned to do with the boat. But last night Sullivan revealed to the CRIMSON that "the city has just issued him a foundation permit 131 feet in perimeter."

Sullivan owns the land under the Cambridge side of the Charles in front of the Yacht Club. He could easily sink the barge in about six feet of water on the area laid out in his foundation permit, thus obstructing motorboating throughout the Charles and severely hemming in crafts docked at the Yacht Club.

The Harvard Sailing Team has been trying for several months to obtain an area of the river-wall near where Sullivan has tied up his barge as the berthing area for its new fleet of sailboats, but has reportedly run into legal complications.

An official of the sailing team said last night that "if Sullivan succeeds in sinking his barge, he will mess up the entire River basin." Sullivan owns the land on which the Crimson sailors may eventually anchor their boats.

Sullivan's quarrel with the M.D.C. and the Charles River Yacht Club (a private organization) springs from his attempts to construct a large apartment house on the riverfront property which he owns. The M.D.C. refused to allow Sullivan to build, but a few months later granted the Club permission to construct a clubhouse and wharfs on Sullivan's property.

Sullivan further charges that the M.D.C. recently gave the Yacht Club permission to store gasoline on property adjoining his, thus violating a city ordinance which requires that before changes are made on a piece of land, owners of abutting property must be notified.

Sullivan's extra-legal barge-sinking scheme may run into serious complications. The M.D.C. has indicated that it will oppose any Sullivan move, although the developer claims "the M.D.C. should keep out of this, because I pay taxes on the land to the City of Cambridge." In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers may have to approve any permanent structure in the River.

The barge may take one last fling before its demise. Sullivan refused to deny rumors that he will anchor the boat in front of the home of M.I.T.'s president

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