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Residents Discuss Construction Concerns at Year’s First Allston Task Force Meeting

In response to Allston residents’ concerns, University representatives promised to maintain an unobtrusive presence as construction ramps up in the area in 2014. They also shared a more detailed development calendar for Allston projects.

About 60 Allston residents and Harvard affiliates gathered in the Honan-Allston Library Wednesday night for the first Harvard-Allston Task Force meeting in over two months.

At the meeting, Harvard representatives outlined responses to concerns of Allston residents noted in previous task force meetings and discussions, including rodent control, contractor parking, and trucking routes during the next years of construction.

Site work and construction for numerous projects included in Harvard’s ten-year, nine-project Institutional Master Plan have already begun or will begin in coming months. The IMP, approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in October, includes 1.4 million square feet of new construction and over 500,000 square feet of renovation.

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Kevin Casey, Harvard’s associate vice president for public affairs and communications, called the IMP, along with its associated $43 million community benefits package, “transformative.”

“This is a downpayment on a huge future for this community,” Casey said. “We’re bringing in people with experience to make sure this is done right.”

Current University projects include renovations to the entrance to the Bright-Landry Hockey Center and site work at the corner of Western Ave. and North Harvard Street, the future home of the Barry’s Corner Residential and Retail Commons, a development that will contain 325 apartment units as well as 45,000 square feet of retail space.

University President Drew G. Faust, along with former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Allston residents, ceremonially broke ground on the project in December.

This spring, construction teams will begin inspections and environmental testing on numerous sites to ready them for construction while beginning demolition on others, according to University representatives. They will also develop open green spaces for public use before summer.

Task Force Chairman Raymond V. Mellone pushed Harvard to do more than make promises that residents’ concerns would be addressed.

“You have to be convincing about your good intent,” he said.

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