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Allston park renovation may signal thaw in Harvard’s relationship with Boston neighbors

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City of Boston

Harvard University and Boston are partnering on a $6.5 million renovation of the William F. Smith Field off Soldiers Field Road near Harvard Stadium in Allston.

The revamped parkland will include touches such as an amphitheater, a tot lot, a splash pond, and a street hockey court. Harvard and Boston also plan to redo ballfields to remove overlap and to create a pedestrian pathway along the park’s perimeter.

More importantly, the collaboration—which Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust are expected to seal with an official groundbreaking on October 2—could signal a thaw in the sometimes frosty relationship between the school and its Allston neighbors.

The two sides have not always seen eye to eye re: Harvard’s expansion plans, to say the least; nor have chronic delays regarding the expansion sat well.

The project, which is expected to pivot around a new 500,000-square-foot applied sciences and engineering school, was originally supposed to be well underway toward the end of the previous decade, but the Great Recession got in the way.

Worked started in earnest this year.