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Harvard Donates $1.3 Million Gift to Cambridge for Square Improvements

By Anna M. Friedman, Crimson Staff Writer

The Cambridge City Council voted at its meeting last night to appropriate a $1.3 million-dollar gift from Harvard for the Harvard Square Enhancement Project.

The city’s project, which faced funding difficulties, aims to make the Square more pedestrian-friendly. Harvard’s gift will help fund the installation of a walk signal by Johnston Gate and sidewalk and street enhancements by the Lampoon castle and on Palmer, Winthrop, and JFK Streets.

Councillor Henrietta Davis joked that she was happy to praise Harvard for a change.

“This is a really important pedestrian project,” she said. “Thank you to Harvard for stepping up to the plate.”

But some Cantabrigians criticized the project. Marilyn Wellons told the council that Harvard’s contribution to its “private fiefdom” would benefit the University and Square merchants but not local residents.

She added that the project will squander “funds that could be better spent.”

The Council considered several other Harvard-related matters at its meeting.

Councillor Marjorie C. Decker, who chairs the Health and Environment Committee, also reported that the University will begin using low-sulfur diesel fuel in the vehicles used for its construction projects. City residents living near the construction site by the Mather, Dunster, and Leverett Houses had called for measures to decrease air pollution caused by the site, where graduate student housing is being built.

In response to decreased Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority bus service to Cambridge, Councillor Craig A. Kelley asked City Manager Robert W. Healy to investigate the possibility of tapping into private transportation services—like Harvard’s shuttle services—for public use. Healy agreed to look into the idea, which he said “makes a good deal of sense,” but said that the proposition faces “multiple legal issues.”

With Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves ’72 under the weather, Vice-Mayor Timothy J. Toomey presided over the meeting.

—Staff writer Anna M. Friedman can be reached at

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