It looks like the Kennedy Memorial Library won't be able to have its gala opening during the nation's bicentennial, as library officials, well aware of peak tourism times, had hoped.
Construction of the Library will be delayed at least five months so that the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality can complete a study of the Library's environmental impact.
The Federal government didn't decide until last June--after the groundbreaking and completion dates for the Library had already been set--that it would require an environmental impact report on the library.
The Federal government doesn't seem especially worried about the Library itself, but rather about its "total impact" on the Cambridge area--that is, the tourist trade it is sure to spawn.
"Is everyone going to start selling rocking chairs and little torpedo boats?" Cambridge City Planner Robert Boyer asked last week. He said he wanted to find out if Harvard Square can "stand the high level of transiency that would result from the tourists."
Before June, no one was sure whether Federal environmental restrictions applied to the Kennedy Library because a private organization, the Kennedy Corporation, is building the Library. But the government decided that since the Federal General Services Administration (GSA) will maintain the library after it is completed, the statutes would apply.
The GSA will hire a consulting firm late this year to do the study.
The Library has become by now a Cambridge community issue, and the Cambridge city planners will ask that the City's socioeconomic environment be included in the study along with its natural environment.