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The Cambridge City Council last night voted to press the city's claim to the use of the overpass connecting the Yard with the Science Center and Oxford St.
By a vote of 8-1, the council passed one city order that calls for setting aside the disputed territory as Cambridge park land and another that requests City Manager James L. Sullivan consider using the land for "a high school track or for other recreational purposes."
The council also passed orders asking Acting City Solicitor Russell Higley to verify the status of the land and report on progress in the city's suit against Harvard for damage claims to the tunnel underpass.
Only Councilor Francis H. Duehay '55, formerly dean of admissions for the Graduate School of Education, voted against the four measures.
Disrupting Pedestrian Traffic
Duehay said in his opinion the city does own the land in question, but that putting it to use as park land would be "inappropriate" and would unduly disrupt pedestrian traffic in the area.
But the sponsor of the four orders, Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci, said that ownership of the land is not the only issue.
Vellucci said he hopes the city's investigation of the area will "open Pandora's box" and reveal that Harvard has been "swallowing up street" and otherwise robbing the city of open space and thoroughfares.
"Who knows what we'll find when we start to cut into the octopus's belly?" he said.
Vellucci started his investigation when students from Cambridge High and Latin School called him to complain about the lack of track space at their school.
Track team members at High and Latin and at Rindge Technical School currently use school corridors and nearby streets for track practice. All Cambridge track meets are held at opponents' fields.
Frustrated Students' Efforts
The students' efforts last month to convince Harvard to loan them a field were frustrated by the University's response that it couldn't lend them space until after the high school started its summer vacation, Vellucci said.
Vellucci said he hopes that "when we sit down with Harvard with the news about the overpass, maybe they'll see some way to work toward the benefit of the people in this city for once."
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