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The President of the Riverside Planning Team, Saundra Graham, yesterday accused Harvard of "dragging its feet" in planning low-income replacement housing in Riverside, a predominantly black neighborhood which borders on Peabody Terrace. The Planning Team was the sponsor of last Spring's commencement disruptions.
"They've had six weeks to come to some sort of agreement with us and so far absolutely nothing has happened," Graham said. "They are obviously stalling in order to get their own choice of a developer," she added.
Following the demonstration last Spring, the University promised the group that it would oversee the construction of replacement housing.
The group's demands last year called for approximately 150 units, but Graham has indicated that initial offers from Harvard have mentioned figures of about 70 units.
Questioned about the number of units planned, Harvard Coordinator for Community Affairs Donald G. Moulton declined comment.
The Planning Team has backed the construction of a low-rise apartment complex, possibly containing only four or five stories, on a site of land located at the corner of Harvard and River Streets.
The land was bought recently by Harvard, though the price paid for the tract and its actual acreage are classified information according to Moulton.
"We could build a large apartment building, but the basic aim of the construction is to provide housing for families-we feel quite strongly that children should not have to live in huge impersonal multi-story apartments with elevators," Graham said. "It just isn't healthy."
Asked how many units and how manystories the development would hold, Moulton replied, "We just haven't figured that out yet."
A main point of contention has arisen in the selection of a developer. The Planning Team has contacted the Boston firm of Housing Innovation, Inc., a company which has had previous experience in building low-income housing in the Roxbury area.
Moulton said that he had not known that the Planning Team favored this firm, but added, "Since Harvard is acting as the catalyst in this whole affair, it is only just that they should have a major say in the choice of a developer."
A meeting to discuss the development has been set for today, but it is unlikely that Harvard will be represented. Moulton said that he had "previous commitments," and probably wouldn't be there.
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