BOSTON--For 17 years, Allston, home of the Harvard Business School, has not had a town library. But yesterday the University announced it will give about 57,000 square feet of land to Boston to use for a Boston Public Library (BPL) branch in Allston.
"This came through discussions with the mayor's office," said Kevin A. McCluskey '76, Harvard's director of community relations for Allston-Brighton.
"It was a clear need that had been expressed by the community," he added.
About 17 years ago, Allston failed to pass a tax increase and lost its library.
"A child born at the time the library was closed could be graduating from high school now and would never have been able to attend a library in his or her neighborhood," said Paul Berkeley, president of the Allston Civic Association and a member of the task force on relations between Harvard and the Allston community.
The Civic Association has for several years been actively looking for a spot for the library, according to Berkeley. Beal Companies, which purchased land for Harvard, had originally offered the land for the library, according to Berkeley.
Boston has allocated $3.5 million to the library.
Harvard will offer any design or management expertise it can to the project, said McCluskey.
The land, the former home of the MacNamara Concrete Plant, is part of the land secretly purchased during the past eight years by Harvard through the Beal Company. Since it acquired the land several years ago, Harvard has cleaned the area. The building currently occupying the plot will be torn down, McCluskey said.
The future library site is located at the corner of North Harvard and Estoria Streets in Allston. The surrounding neighborhood is filled with families, according to McCluskey.
At a press conference yesterday, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced the city has signed a $368,000 contract with the Michado & Silvetti Associates, Inc., who will serve as architects for the project, according to a press release.
"Thanks to the new spirit of partnership between the City of Boston and Harvard University, we now have a big enough parcel of land to build a library that will serve many needs for the residents of Allston well into the next century," Menino said.