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Parking Issues Come to Fore in Tense Allston Meeting

Allston residents demanded solutions to what they called chronic problems—particularly competition for parking from construction workers—facing the community as a result of Harvard’s development in Allston at a tense Harvard-Allston Task Force meeting Monday night.

Residents and task force members said that in addition to the parking problem, they fear that Saturday work hours and damaging construction vibrations will plague the neighborhood over the next decade as Harvard continues to develop its Allston campus.

Parking woes
Robert Eckert, a manager from Suffolk Construction speaks about construction mitigation at a Harvard-Allston Task Force meeting on Monday.

“If we don’t get this right now, we’re going to be talking about these issues for the next 10 years,” task force chair Raymond V. Mellone said. “We have to understand where the responsibility of Harvard lies.”

With the influx of construction workers into the neighborhood and the lack of free parking for their vehicles, homeowners say that available parking on residential streets is disappearing.

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Community members also pointed to parking issues stemming from both University-run projects on the Business School campus and ongoing construction of the Barry’s Corner Residential and Retail Commons, the property Harvard leased to developer Samuels & Associates, whose representatives also attended the meeting.

For construction projects at both the Business School and the Barry’s Corner site, construction workers who cannot find parking on-site are instructed to park at Soldiers Field garage on Western Ave., but residents fear that the workers continue to park on residential streets to avoid the $15 garage fee. Homeowners requested that Harvard subsidize the workers’ parking costs, a benefit no other Harvard employees receive.

“We know that there are 100 cars parking somewhere,” task force member Brent C. Whelan ’73 said. “It’s nuts to think that there’s not a problem here.”

Representatives from the University disagreed.

“We don’t believe there is a systemic problem with our parking plan,” said Kevin Casey, Harvard’s associate vice president for public affairs and communications. This month, the University conducted a study comparing the neighborhood’s parking situation on Veteran’s Day, when no construction projects were underway, with a regular workday. Based on that study’s findings, Casey claimed that the impact from Harvard’s construction on residential parking is limited.

Casey argued that the parking plans Harvard has already implemented successfully address community concerns. Task force members pushed back.

“You don’t have a way to minimize the problem,” Mellone said. “What you have is a way to minimize your concern.”

Allston Home Damage

Task force member Bruce E. Houghton said the issue goes beyond empirical studies.

“Whether you’re right or wrong doesn’t make any difference,” Houghton said, addressing University representatives. “You’ve spent a lot of time building a positive relationship [with the community]. Do you want to see this go down the tubes over parking?”

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