In response to a safety concern about two key pipes running through Harvard-owned land, water resource authorities assured Allston residents that sewage and water pipelines will not be impacted.
The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority owns a pipe running near Harvard’s science and engineering complex and another under its proposed center for innovation—the “Enterprise Research Campus.” As Harvard develops its plans for the campus, some Allston residents are concerned about the potential dangers of these pipes.
Harvard first announced its intentions to build a center for entrepreneurship called the “Enterprise Research Campus” in 2011. The University hired real estate agent Steven D. Fessler to lead the construction of the area in April 2016.
In March 2018, the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the city’s urban planning body, approved of Harvard’s initial plans describing a 14.1-acre portion of the “Enterprise Research Campus,” allocating 400,000 square feet of land for office space, 250,000 square feet for residential space, and room for approximately 800 parking spaces.
At the BPDA board meeting last week, one Allstonian raised a question about the pipes running under the enterprise campus. Residents also discussed the pipe during the Allston Construction Mitigation Subcommittee meeting a couple of weeks ago.
Allstonian Ed A. Kotomori, the co-chairman of the subcommittee, said Harvard seemed “concerned” about the pipes during the University’s presentations on the Enterprise Research Campus.
“Our concern is that the future construction will probably involve a lot of pipes, a lot of steel going into the ground, which would result in a lot of shaking in the land out there, with a possibly of damaging the pipe,” he said.
Kotomori said a sudden pipe leak could cause “a lot” of environmental damage without people noticing immediately, and that it was also possible for a burst pipe to create “a sinkhole.”
MWRA Deputy Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Fiore said the organization “carefully” reviews planned development projects. She said that the MWRA will continue to ensure that the sewage and water pipelines are not impacted or disrupted.
Fiore said the organization ensures that “there wouldn’t be any construction in a place that would impact us negatively.”
Harvard spokesperson Brigid O’Rourke wrote in an email statement Thursday that “Harvard has communicated to MWRA that initial plans call for new utilities in the ERC to eventually cross over existing MWRA infrastructure.”
“All plans will go through MWRA’s required permitting process, and any eventual approval will include designs for how these utilities can cross over and protect existing sewer lines,” O’Rourke wrote.
In addition, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission also has pipes in the area.
Communications Consultant Nicole Kieser wrote in an email Thursday that Harvard’s construction is unlikely to interfere with the water and sewage systems that Allston residents use.
“More likely, neighbors may in fact see an overall enhancement in their services,” she wrote.
—Staff writer Truelian Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @truelian_lee.
—Staff writer Jacqueline P. Patel can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @jppatel99.
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