Cambridge School Committee Candidates Discuss Special Ed, Achievement Gaps, Math in Lead Up to Election
Indigenous Translations Will Be Added to Street Signs Around Cambridge
Ahead of Previous-Term Course Registration Debut, Harvard Faculty and Staff Remain Divided on New System
Harvard Welcomes Families of Juniors and Freshmen to Campus During ‘Beautiful’ Weekend
‘A Real Shift’: New Harvard Student Union Forms Amid National Wave of Undergrad Unionization
The Boston Planning and Development Agency hosted a Halloween celebration on Saturday to provide information and seek feedback from residents on the construction of Harvard’s campus expansion in the neighborhood.
The Halloween celebration, held at Harvard’s Science and Engineering Complex, is the latest in a larger series of events hosted by the BPDA to seek resident and stakeholder responses to the construction of Harvard’s Enterprise Research Campus and Greenway Project, which has been underway since June.
The event offered bike and walk tours of the proposed expansion site as well as infographics detailing next steps in the construction process.
According to organizers, 30 people signed up for the event.
The ERC is a planned Harvard campus expansion into Allston that will offer residential, retail, and office space as well as a hotel and conference center. It will also feature a public greenway linking Raymond V. Mellone Park to the Charles River.
In July 2022, the BPDA approved Phase A of Harvard’s plan, allowing for the construction of 900,000 square feet of the ERC, including two acres of public open land and a greenway. The University also agreed to allot $1 million to assessing the needs of local residents and stakeholders.
Phase A aimed to address concerns from local residents and activists about construction for the ERC, according to Breeze Outlaw, BPDA urban designer and Harvard ERC District and Greenway Plan project manager.
“Part of the mitigation and approval of Phase A, which is currently under construction, was that Harvard support — in partnership with the BPDA — a planning process that gets to a more community-driven vision for the ERC,” they said.
Outlaw said one of the goals of Saturday’s event is to bring “transparency” to the construction process by “being in the neighborhood, in the community, doing events to see folks in real life and face-to-face.”
Since June, the BPDA has hosted two advisory group meetings and a public forum. The Halloween celebration was the second event open to the public. Public engagement for the development will continue through April 2024 with several more advisory group meetings, focus groups, and public forums.
Saturday’s event featured a variety of stations for attendees to provide feedback, such as landscape painting, mapping, world building, and putting post-it notes in response to prompts about their vision for the ERC and the Greenway.
Victor Salvucci, a longtime resident of Allston, said he looks forward to running along the Greenway. Nonetheless, he said that there will always be “people who don’t want change.”
“Hopefully some of the neighbors could voice their concerns, and they could adjust the project, try to make it more agreeable to the neighborhood,” he said.
Rita M. DiGesse, who has lived in Allston for 94 years and has been a member of the Harvard Allston Task Force for around 20 years, said the city has seen significant changes. DiGesse said she joined the task force in the hopes of protecting the area, but added that the rapid development is difficult to stop.
“But progress is — I can’t stop it,” DiGesse said. “The neighborhood is deteriorating because with the building that’s going on, they can’t afford to live here.”
According to Outlaw, however, Harvard has been receptive to resident concerns.
“They have been a really good partner in this work and really, really want to be sensitive to the things that they’ve heard and find a way to work through it,” Outlaw said.
Regardless of resident feedback, for Salvucci, one thing is clear: The ERC and Greenway construction will continue.
“They’re not going to stop it, because you can’t stop the money that’s involved in this type of thing,” Salvucci said.
Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.