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Harvard and Massachusetts Water Resource Authority Address Construction Concerns

Following safety concerns regarding two important pipes under land owned by Harvard University, Allston residents were assured by the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority that water and sewage piping shall not be affected.

Pipes owned by the MWRA run close to Harvard’s science and engineering complex whilst another runs underneath its planned center for innovation called the Enterprise Research Campus. A number of Allston residents have been voicing concerns over the possible damage to the pipes as Harvard advances its plans to develop its campus,

The intent to build the Enterprise Research Campus were initially raised in 2011 and real estate broker Steven D. Fessler was hired to head the construction in April of 2016.

Earlier this month, the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the body responsible for Boston’s urban planning, passed approval of the initial plans put forward by Harvard. The plans cover a 14.1-acre section of the “Enterprise Research Campus,” with 400,000 square feet of land allocated for office areas, 250,000 square feet set aside for residential areas, and space for parking for up to 800 vehicles

In last week’s board meeting of the Boston Planning and Development Agency, formerly known as the Boston Redevelopment Authority, a question was raised by Allston resident concerning the existing piping running beneath the Enterprise Research Campus. Co-chairman of the subcommittee, Ed A. Kotomori, reported that Harvard appeared “concerned” about what would happen to pipes during Harvard’s presentations on the plans for Enterprise Research Campus.

“Our concern is that the future construction will probably involve a lot of pipes, a lot of steel going into the ground, which would result in a lot of shaking in the land out there, with a possibly of damaging the pipe,” Mr Kotomori said.

The Allstonian resident also that said that any damage to the pipes may result in a “lot” of damage to the environment with the possibility of “sinkholes” appearing.

Carolyn Fiore, the Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the MRWA, stated that the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority will ensure that there is minimal impact or disruption to water and sewage pipelines without any negative effect on construction.

Brigid O’Rourke, the spokesperson for Harvard emailed a statement this week saying: “Harvard has communicated to MWRA that initial plans call for new utilities in the ERC to eventually cross over existing MWRA infrastructure.”

Fears from the residents are that there will be a need for expensive pipe and sewer replacement which as yet, has not been accounted for. Despite Harvard’s insistence that the construction will not impact upon the sewage and water that are being used by Allston residents, there are many Allstonians who have strong reservations are monitoring the situation closely.

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