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Turf Tiff Leads to Long Grass

By Ross G. Forman

People say the grass is always greener on the other side, but nobody thought they meant the Radcliffe Quad.

Because of an ongoing dispute between Harvard and the company that landscaped the Quad, the grass has not been mowed for most of the summer.

University officials claim the landscaping was not done properly and say they are working with the contractor to correct the problem. The disagreement "has to do with the way the soil retains moisture," said Micheal E. Williams, the director of the office of physical operations for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

Meanwhile, the foot-tall grass cannot be cut or it will die, Williams said. "When the weather is hot and you cut it short, it burns off."

The dispute also raises legal questions about mowing the area. If Harvard cuts the grass in the Quad, it could be construed to mean that the University has "accepted" the landscaping work from the Providence based Dimeo Construction Company.

"There has been a question of whether Harvard should accept from the contractor the sodding that was done," said Michael N. Lichten, director of the office of project management for FAS.

University officials refused to say who was to blame for the sodding. A spokesman for Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54, head of Harvard's legal office, said he was unaware of the dispute.

Williams said that mistakes were bound to happen when "complex" work--like landscaping the football field-sized commons--is done at an accelerated pace. He added that the University was trying to correct the problem but did not want to act too hastily.

"We want to make sure that when we fix it, we fix it correctly," he said. Dimeo project director Don Departo could not be reached for comment.

The sodding at the Quad has been a controversial issue for almost a year. A plan to install orange-colored grass was scrapped last fall after students protested against it.

It is still unclear just how soon the Quad grass will be mowed. Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 said he thought the problem had been worked out, adding, "It seems able to be mowed now." And David E. Irving, an associated manager of the Harvard Planning Group who worked on the renovations, set a more definite date. "The grass will be mowed next week," he said.

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