Who would pay for the parks?
Given that Harvard
University would likely have more control of the design of
certain parklands if it financed them, Harvard might be eager
to pay for some of them - notably the new parkland that is
essentially the front lawn of the new Harvard campuses in
Allston. At other locations maybe there would be no immediate
need for new park construction, so nobody would have to pay
initially. Perhaps other institutions or groups would want
to pay for certain parts. For instance:
- Perhaps the former Memorial Drive would
simply become a year-round Riverbend Park, and there would
be no need to change anything about the existing roadway
- Perhaps Boston University would pay for
whatever happened on the land right before their main campus
where Storrow Drive is now(from east of the B. U. Bridge,
past Marsh Chapel, to Charlesgate)
- Perhaps MIT would pay for the entrance
ramps shown at Vassar Street.
- Perhaps the abutters of the new parkland
on Fresh Pond Parkway and Lowell Park in Cambridge would
want to play a role in financing those parts of the parkland
- Perhaps The Cambridge Homes, Mount Auburn
Hospital, Buckingham Brown & Nichols, the Shady Hill
School, Mount Auburn Cemetery or residents of Coolidge Hill
would want to help finance the expansion of parkland at
the eastern end of Fresh Pond Parkway, and to the west of
the Eliot Bridge.
Who would pay for construction of
In this vision, Harvard would be the sole
financier of this tunnel. In the short-run, the "Big
Dig" has exhausted local, state, and national resources
for tunnel building in greater Boston. Harvard could marshal
the resources to finance such a venture.
The suggestion that Harvard be the financier might be considered
presumptuous or inappropriate, but no offense to Harvard is
intended. It is important to emphasize here that this is only
one of any number of tunnel finance schemes that could be
The suggestion that Harvard finance the tunnel may not be
welcome in some quarters, but it is made in good faith.
Why would Harvard
pay for it?
Grand institutions do grand deeds. Also,
Harvard would be the primary beneficiary of such a tunnel:
- The public parkland would make the new
Harvard campuses more unified with Harvard Yard. (Also the
Medical School would be more connected to the whole by way
of the Emerald Necklace or by the vaguely suggested "Emerald
- The edges of the property that Harvard
now owns have over 16,000 linear feet (over 3 miles) abutting
the Charles River banks. In this drawing, every linear foot
of their abutting property would gain direct access to the
Charles River banks.
How would Harvard pay for it?
Harvard's most recent capital campaign ended
in 1999, yielding $2. 6 billion. Their new vice president
for alumni affairs and development recently said that she
expects to begin a much larger capital campaign in the middle
of this decade - largely to finance the Allston Initiative.
Harvard could set an even higher goal for this capital campaign
to include financing of this tunnel.
Why is there any chance that Harvard would
pay for it?
Harvard has a history of proposing and financing
bridge and tunnel construction to make their campus work well
for people who are not in automobiles. The Weeks Footbridge
was built over the Charles River in the first half of the
20th century, entirely at Harvard's expense. In the last half-century
Harvard has endeavored three times to build bridges or tunnels
in and around their Harvard Square campus:
- Once with success in the late 1960's
- the Broadway & Cambridge Street automobile underpass,
made the wide pedestrian mall between Harvard Yard and the
Science Center possible.
- Twice with failure more recently - a pedestrian
bridge over Broadway between the Fogg and Sackler Museums,
and a tunnel beneath Cambridge Street between the two proposed
Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS) buildings.
In the two instances where Harvard failed,
community opposition to the construction prevailed. In both
instances the proposed bridge or tunnel was for the private
use of Harvard. (In this website's proposal the tunnel and
the land made auto-free would all be for public use - just
like the pedestrian mall, the Cambridge Street underpass,
and the Weeks Footbridge.)
Harvard paid all construction costs for the 1966 Cambridge
Street underpass, and upon completion deeded it to the City
of Cambridge. The work cost $19.3 million in today's dollars
($3. 4 million in 1966 dollars), but Harvard owns neither
the underpass, the land, nor the mall. All are publicly owned
and intended for public use. Harvard University was the sole
source of all financing.
In proposing this construction to the City of Cambridge in
1965, Harvard's representative, L. Gard Wiggins, noted that
the mutual benefits for the city and for Harvard "are
clearly evident." With the city's consent, Harvard deeded
23,660 square feet of land to the city, hired the contractor,
oversaw the construction, and to this day performs all maintenance
on the pedestrian mall. (The city maintains the automobile
Similarly, the mutual benefits of this vision of the Charles
River's future, both for the public and for Harvard University,
are clearly evident.
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