Like an ink blot spreading relentlessly across a clean blotter, Harvard may well continue to spread into and dominate Cambridge--or so city officials fear, in the wake of a new University loan program which offers low-interest, long-term mortgage terms to tenured faculty members buying nearby housing.
City Councilors Mary Ellen Preusser and Sandra Graham, along with Cambridge Community Development Director David Vickery, all maintain that the Harvard loan program will drive up housing costs throughout the city.
Harvard officials, not surprisingly, think otherwise. Thomas O'Brien, financial vice president, says the plan--which offers a minimum of 20 loans of $100,000 each this year, drawn from a $2 million fund--won't make a dent in a city the size of Cambridge.
City officials also object to another part of the plan which gives Harvard a one-month option of purchasing property owned by any Faculty member covered by the plan--raising the old specter of University expansion.
Preusser suggests that the University could have reduced the plan's impact on Cambridge by also extending the housing loans to ten nearby communities. But according to O'Brien, such an expansion would defeat the loan program's goal of keeping faculty members near students.
However the loans will affect Cambridge, you can be sure this won't be the last time the Corporation and city don't see eye to eye on housing.