Julie Moscatel/Harvard University Office of Public Affairs
In addition to its venerable campuses, Harvard University owns a villa in Florence, the Dumbarton Oaks library and museum in Washington, D.C., and an entire forest in central Massachusetts.
But, hey, you can't putt a golf ball through a windmill or hammer a fast ball at any of those impressive properties.
Tonight, the august university is rounding out its portfolio by opening a batting cage and mini-golf facility at a property it owns in Boston's Allston neighborhood.
The Harvard Allston Field and Fairway at 168 Western Ave., a former car dealership and neighborhood garage, will be free to the public through the fall, according to a statement from the school.
The facility includes two batting cages, two golf-swing cages, an outdoor 18-hole mini-golf course -- complete with windmill and traffic light -- and a game room. It will be open Friday through Sunday, Harvard said. The university athletic department is providing the baseball and golf equipment.
The university is giving the property alternative uses (it already opened a temporary ice skating rink there in the winter), while it searches for a long-term tenant, the university said.
"The new use is part of Harvard’s ongoing commitment to strengthen the active stewardship of its properties and improve community vitality in Allston," Harvard said in the statement.
Brent Whelan, a member of the Harvard Allston Task Force and an Allston resident for more than 30 years, said the community enjoys the alternative uses but wonders what will happen to the property in the future.
“A bigger question is how Harvard is using its many, many properties along Western Avenue and in [Allston and Brighton] to animate and invigorate the neighborhood,” he said.
“In a small way, yeah, an ice skating rink and batting cages will do that. But it doesn’t take away the large concern” over the properties, he added.
The university owns more than 350 acres in Allston and many of the land purchases have stirred resentment in the community. The university had been planning a $1 billion science complex in the area, but suspended plans in December, due to money problems.
A celebration marking the facility’s opening is scheduled tonight from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Harvard said.
The facility will be open Fridays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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