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HARVARD'S ALLSTON PROBLEM (ALLSTON'S HARVARD PROBLEM)

Neighborhood of broken promises

March 2, 2009
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OUR NORTH Allston neighborhood has been reading coverage of Harvard's development "recession" with great interest. We are disappointed by Harvard's mugging of our community. What started as a hostage-taking in the early 1990s quickly moved to a seduction to gain our trust, and then to the promise of hope for a fabulous future. Last week, it seemed our pocketbooks were stolen, and we are left with abandoned buildings, rotting fences, growing weeds, and a 5-acre, 50-foot-deep hole - rewards for our troubles.

After repeated requests, we continue to welcome a direct and candid discussion with Mayor Menino and Drew Faust, president of Harvard, to address the university's development.

Our neighborhood is wrongly depicted as industrial and commercial. We are a neighborhood of kind people doing our best to ensure our community's well-being. We pay our taxes, paint our houses, shovel our walks, watch out for each other's children, and reach out to our elders. There's always a cup of sugar or a ride to the airport waiting only feet from our front doors.

Our initial concern was that Harvard would try to take over our neighborhood, making us a part of its campus. The university felt it could save us from ourselves, so to speak, by bringing in new businesses, smart people, and a new vitality. Ironically, it is Harvard that's left with the blighted neighborhood.

We still have ours - rich in community and ready for the next challenge. This is the only thing Harvard and the City of Boston cannot steal from us.

Paul Alford
Allston

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