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To the Editors of The Crimson:
I am writing about a proposal for the siting of the museum section of the Kennedy Library. As a Cambridge resident who is familiar with many of the groups who are concerned about the impact of a tourist culture on the Harvard Square area, and as an advocate urban consultant who played a role in the redesign of the Holiday Inn, I have a proposed solution to the problem of the museum building.
Since the environmental impact statement is slowing down the progress of the Kennedy Library; since there is a growing concern that the facility relate to community needs; and since the main tourist pressure comes from the museum facility, why not put the facility in an existing building in an area which can more easily accommodate this influx of tourists--and, in fact, will be better off for it? I am suggesting that the museum facility be placed in the Faneuil Market. I have discussed this idea with a number of community leaders in Cambridge. In the brief time since this idea was suggested to me by the Assistant Director of the Environmental Arts and Architecture section of the National Endowment for the Arts, who is a visiting Loeb Fellow at Harvard, it seems to have earned a rare accolade among solutions to Cambridge problems: nearly unanimous endorsement.
Fanueil Market has the following advantages:
1. It can be used as a stimulant by the Rouse Company, which is developing the market, and evidently can use additional attractions in the area to firm up their own marketing arrangements. I think it would be possible to negotiate an agreement with Mr. Rouse in which he would donate part of the lease to the Friends of the Kennedy Library.
2. The area already has an historic district status, which will protect it from the impact of mass tourism that could alter the Harvard Square area where there is currently no overlay of zoning protection for environmental controls.
3. The museum section could be opened in time for the Bicentennial. I understand that this was one of the initial objectives of the Library plan.
4. The site would adaptively use an existing older building, which needs additional use and which identifies the late President with an existing historic area, "The cradle of Liberty."
5. The area is close to the waterfront, and can help stimulate other progressive steps for the renewal and enhancement of this significant area. Since the late President loved the sea, it seems an appropriate location for many of his artifacts and curios.
6. The area can absorb a greater quantity of tourists than can Harvard Square, and yet is close enough administratively so it can be related without great difficulty to the Library in Harvard Square.
7. Unlike the Harvard Square area, where prohibitive costs for an underground garage would probably result in 400 on-site parking spaces to accommodate the tourists, the Faneuil Market area has the 1850-space Government Center garage which is largely unoccupied on weekends and holidays, the times when tourists would most heavily utilize the museum facility.
8. The Chinese word for "crisis" is composed of the two characters "danger" and "opportunity." This is an opportunity which I believe can substantially reduce Cambridge opposition to the Library, and reinforce an existing attraction where the impact of tourism can be a positive economic force for the renovation of an historic area. Ronald Lee Fleming Executive Director Vision, Inc.
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