Thursday, 4:30 PM
Neighbors continue to oppose Harvard project
By April Yee, Globe Correspondent
ROSLINDALE -- Harvardís plan to build a 45,000-square-foot research facility next to the Arnold Arboretum has nearby residents dreading the disappearance of open space, and a handful hope they can stonewall, if not stop, the powerful university.
"Itís sort of us against Harvard," said Frank OíBrien, who lives in a house on the same street. "Just because Harvard can do something, doesnít mean it should do something."
Harvard wants to build a two-story brick-and-glass building to house the arboretumís administration and research at the base of a hill near the corner of Centre and Weld streets, on a 14.2-acre lot the university bought in 1922. In the four years since Harvard announced its plans, residents have joined a city-appointed task force and thronged public meetings. The latest was Monday night, when more than 50 residents voiced their distress to a Harvard representative and to staff from the mayorís office.
While the plan is a small slice of Harvardís expansion into residential areas, residents who have closely watched the universityís ongoing push into Allston, where it plans to shift part of its campus, say they are wary of the universityís designs on land around the arboretum.
Harvardís director of community relations told residents nothing else would be built on the lot through 2882, the final year of Harvardís lease on the arboretumís 265 acres, which it negotiated with Boston in 1882.
"We have just, as a private property owner, placed a restriction on the use of our property for 875 years," Harvardís director of community relations, Kevin McCluskey, said in an interview Tuesday. ďAnyone whoís unimpressed by that really needs to look more carefully at the situation."
But some residents doubt that Harvard will keep the promise, focusing on a clause in the universityís master plan that would allow the Legislatureís two houses to modify the restriction by a two-thirds vote. Some neighbors believe that Harvard can finagle just such a political miracle, however unlikely.
April Yee can be reached at email@example.com.