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Harvard presented a new package of community benefits totaling $43 million to the Harvard-Allston Task Force on Monday evening. The community benefits package is linked to the University’s ten-year Institutional Master Plan for development in Allston. Documents for the Chao Center, an executive education facility at the Business School that will be the first project in the IMP, will be filed Tuesday.
In response to demands from task force members for community benefits related to housing, the new proposal adds $5 million to support new housing and homeownership in the neighborhood. The package also pledges $500,000 to the Gardner Pilot Academy for general improvements. The final modification is the reallocation of $1.7 million from Harvard’s planned ‘transformative project,’ to a flexible fund that could be used for projects that emerge later in the IMP process.
Kevin Casey, Harvard’s associate vice president for public affairs and communications, said that this proposal, which offers more money than any past package associated with the IMP, may be the maximum the University is willing to offer in terms of community benefits.
“This is the third time that I’ve come to you since July, and each time we have added millions of dollars to the package,” Casey said. “The well is dry in terms of what we believe is commensurate with the physical development in the master plan.”
Despite Harvard’s proposed additions to the community benefits package, some task force members said they remained unsatisfied.
Task force member Cathy Snedeker called for a greater emphasis on workforce and employment development.
“It’s just not enough,” Snedecker said. “I see nothing that’s linking us to…how we’re going to be able to protect existing businesses and what [new businesses] we’re going to bring in here.”
Christina L. Marin, another task force member and a graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School, highlighted the absence of a $500,000 public safety budget for cameras and other equipment that had been requested by members of the Boston Police Department and endorsed by the task force.
Kairos Shen, chief city planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, said that he and other members of the BRA are satisfied with the amount Harvard is proposing for the community benefits package. He said that this package raises the bar for developments by other large institutions in the area, noting that Harvard’s newest package provides more money per square foot than any other university’s.
Task force members agreed to reassess the budgets for individual projects within the package as well as the total funding amount at a task force meeting next week.
—Staff writer Marco J. Barber Grossi can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @marco_jbg.
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