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Groups Discuss Future of Tasty

Harvard Square Defense Fund, Activists Consider Area's History

By Lori I. Diamond

Community and student groups met in Emerson Hall last night to discuss the proposed demolition of four historic Harvard Square buildings.

If the plan--put forward by the Cambridge Savings Bank, which owns the property--goes through, The Tasty might be torn down, along with the former Wursthaus, which closed its doors last July.

"A number of residents are concerned that the Square is losing its special character and becoming another victim of the 'malling' of America," said government department Teaching Fellow Peter F. Cannavo, who mediated the meeting.

Charles M. Sullivan, executive director of the Cambridge Historical Commission, said that the Square's unique character is what draws people back.

"I have a theory that many people fall in love with Harvard Square when they first see it and thereafter are committed to preserving it," he said.

"People go to Harvard Square to go to familiar places. There are not going to be any more familiar places," said Peter A. Haddad, owner of the Tasty.

Also at the meeting was Harvard's Green Party, a small student group which shares progressive social and environmental aims with the worldwide movement of the same name.

"We are trying to link Harvard students with events in Cambridge," said Kennedy School student John R. Stith a Green Party member who said he opposed demolishing the buildings.

Pebble Gifford, president of the Harvard Square Defense Fund, a volunteer organization "dedicated to preserving the vitality, diversity and workability of Harvard Square," also strongly opposed the development.

Gifford offered one proposal to preserve the character of the Square: Designating it as a historical district.

"I think the biggest argument in favor of making it a historical district is it's good for business," Gifford said. "I think one of the reasons people come here is history. Harvard is his- tory."

Gifford said she enjoyed the Coop more when it had regular women's clothing, rather than Harvard products.

"How many t-shirts can one student wear? How many mugs can you use?" she asked.

Gifford also acknowledged the objections business owners have to making Harvard Square a historical district.

"Property owners won't be able to develop to the extent they like," Gifford said. She said that as compensation, Square businesses should get tax breaks.

Other groups turned out last night to oppose the "mallification" of Harvard Square.

"Harvard Square still continues to be a niche for moms-and-pops," said Kristin T. Sudholz, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, an organization also dedicated to preserving the character of the Square.

According to Sudholz, just as many chain stores as moms-and-pops close down. "Harvard Square breaks all the rules," she said.

Sudholz blamed some of the problems of Harvard Square on the community members themselves.

"If people hear we're becoming a mall, they won't come here," Sudholz said. She said that this negative publicity is what hurts the moms-and-pops.

Besides the two members of the Green Party, only one other student was present at the meeting.

The student, Undergraduate Council representative Justin D. Lerer '99, addressed the crowd. He said that although he agreed with the concerns of the Green party "I'm going to respectfully disagree with everything else."

"The Square should be preserved, but it's not colonial Williamsburg," said Lerer, who is a Crimson editor. "Harvard Square used to have cows and horses. Change can be useful."

Lerer said that he is in favor of having chain stores in the Square. "I would like someplace to eat when I'm writing a paper at four in the morning," he said. "Chain stores are a symbol of quality that consumers have grown to like."

"The fast-food ordinance is something which really hurts students," Lerer said. "Students need something that's fast, something that's cheap. Students will be here forever."

Lerer finished his statement by addressing the speakers directly. "I think you will eventually stifle Harvard Square and alienate the students who are here," he said.

The speakers agreed that--whatever their vision for the future of Harvard Square--community members should work together to make Harvard Square a better place.

"The best thing we can do is to maintain the issue," Sudholz said. "I don't buy into the pessimistic theory that we're all doomed in Harvard Square. Where there's a will there's a way.

Gifford said she enjoyed the Coop more when it had regular women's clothing, rather than Harvard products.

"How many t-shirts can one student wear? How many mugs can you use?" she asked.

Gifford also acknowledged the objections business owners have to making Harvard Square a historical district.

"Property owners won't be able to develop to the extent they like," Gifford said. She said that as compensation, Square businesses should get tax breaks.

Other groups turned out last night to oppose the "mallification" of Harvard Square.

"Harvard Square still continues to be a niche for moms-and-pops," said Kristin T. Sudholz, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, an organization also dedicated to preserving the character of the Square.

According to Sudholz, just as many chain stores as moms-and-pops close down. "Harvard Square breaks all the rules," she said.

Sudholz blamed some of the problems of Harvard Square on the community members themselves.

"If people hear we're becoming a mall, they won't come here," Sudholz said. She said that this negative publicity is what hurts the moms-and-pops.

Besides the two members of the Green Party, only one other student was present at the meeting.

The student, Undergraduate Council representative Justin D. Lerer '99, addressed the crowd. He said that although he agreed with the concerns of the Green party "I'm going to respectfully disagree with everything else."

"The Square should be preserved, but it's not colonial Williamsburg," said Lerer, who is a Crimson editor. "Harvard Square used to have cows and horses. Change can be useful."

Lerer said that he is in favor of having chain stores in the Square. "I would like someplace to eat when I'm writing a paper at four in the morning," he said. "Chain stores are a symbol of quality that consumers have grown to like."

"The fast-food ordinance is something which really hurts students," Lerer said. "Students need something that's fast, something that's cheap. Students will be here forever."

Lerer finished his statement by addressing the speakers directly. "I think you will eventually stifle Harvard Square and alienate the students who are here," he said.

The speakers agreed that--whatever their vision for the future of Harvard Square--community members should work together to make Harvard Square a better place.

"The best thing we can do is to maintain the issue," Sudholz said. "I don't buy into the pessimistic theory that we're all doomed in Harvard Square. Where there's a will there's a way.

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