Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci and other city officials will meet with President Bok, his vice presidents, and members of the Board of Overseers this spring to "bring to a head" long-standing grievances between Harvard and Cambridge, a spokesman for Vellucci said yesterday.
The meeting stems from a three-year-old investigation by the Overseers into a formal complaint by the city council over Harvard's controversial expansion into Cambridge neighborhoods and the displacement of area tenants, Vellucci's aide, Richard McKinnon, said.
A little more than three years ago, relations between Harvard and the City of Cambridge had hit an all-time low in the view of then. City Manager James Sullivan.
Upset by the University's repeated intrusions into the local real-estate market and its conversion of neighborhood apartments to institutional use, tenants demanded action from the city council.
Seven city councilors signed a letter to Board of Overseers President Herbert P. Wilkins '51, "protesting about several things they imagined Herb was doing," according to Robin Schmidt, vice president of community and government affairs for Harvard.
Last April, Wilkins, a State Supreme Court Justice, told a Crimson reporter that he would issue a document in the fall on an investigation by the Overseers' committee on institutional policy into the council's charges. It will "touch on all the frictions between Harvard and Cambridge," he said.
But Wilkins said yesterday that "there will never be a formal written report delivered to anybody" responding to the high-level council complaint.
Upon taking office this year. Vellucci realized that the Overseers' investigation "was hanging" and as a result he met with President Bok last week to schedule a June meeting between city and Harvard officials, McKinnon said.
Councilor David Wyhe said yesterday he was "very disappointed" in Harvard's failure to issue a formal response to the council's 1979 letter and on the Overseers' subsequent investigation. "We deserved a little fuller treatment." Wyhe said.
Wilkins said yesterday that a written report might be warranted but to take over the coals and assess blame isn't as important in the long run" as working quietly behind the scenes to resolve differences with the city.
"It would be better to have a formal report" than just a meeting. City Councilor David Sullivan said. "Informal discussions are not public, and so there is no accountability on the part of the University and a lack of being able to be pinned down on specifics.
On the basis of Harvard officials' comment yesterday, it appears that the Overseers' investigation into the highly charged com- pliants of University expansion three years ago 9 as little more than a commonly used method of diverting public attention from the council's formal protest.
Both President Bok and his vice president for community and government affairs denied that the oversees or Wilkins had ever intended to publicly release the findings of their investigation.
"I just want to put this report--this work that Herb [Wilkins] did--in context," Bok said. "Its like most work the Overseers do review the evidence and then talk to the people involved."
"I doubt very much that anything he has done can be said to be less than he indicated to advance. I would be very careful about that statement." Bok said.