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Decision on Coop's Bridge Stalled by Dietz Objection

Sheldon Dietz '41 paraded a long line of witnesses before the City Council yesterday and may have dealt a death blow to the plans of the Harvard Cooperative Society for a two-story glass bridge connecting its new $2 million annex and its main building.

The Council referred the measure permitting the bridge's construction to the Committee on Public Safety and Service. The Committee's chairman, councillor Alfred E. Vellucci, said he was placing the entire matter "in the deep freeze."

Two-thirds of the Council must approve the bill before the Coop can use the air-rights above municipally-owned Palmer Street. And no one could discover when, if ever, Vellucci would return the bill to the council for a vote.

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Spokesmen for the Coop contended that the "bridge is absolutely essential to the new building" and continually re-emphasized the large amount of taxes the Society pays to the city.

Construction on the first phase of the new four-story annex officially began last week.

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The projected bridge would join the second and third floors of the new building with the Coop's main store. The bridge's second floor level would be used for pedestrian traffic and the third level for movement of material.

Witnesses opposing the bridge--led by Dietz, a local property owner--said it would deprive the street of light and air. One witness claimed that the "large ominous bridge would seal the doom of Palmer St. . .give it the oppressive atmosphere of a wholesale district...like the garment district."

Almost all the witnesses hostile to the Coop's plans said they were members of the Society and that they enjoyed shopping in the Coop. But, they complained, there is no need for a bridge.

"I like the Coop and shop there. I wouldn't think of going up [to the second floor by elevator] and over. I go from door to door," said one woman.

'Dignified Building'

The Coop's architect, Clifford H. Towne told the Council that "we feel that we have come up with a dignified building." He said that shadow studies made by the Coop showed that the bridge would not unduly darken Palmer St.

However, a spokesman for the opposition, Benjamin Gary, a partner in the landscape architectural firm Morice and Gary, said that the bridge would cast a maximum shadow of approximately 65 ft. This shadow would occur, he explained, on the shortest day of the year, Dec. 22. Before and after that date, the shadows would be shorter.

Coop spokesmen said that use of an existing tunnel under Palmer St. between the main building and the present annex would make the transfer of material difficult.

They explained that arriving goods would first have to be moved to the new annex's fourth floor for storage; then, when needed, the goods would have to be taken down to the basement, through the tunnel, and then back up to a higher floor of the main building.

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