Middle Campus Trial Delayed

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

Due to scheduling constraints in the Massachusetts Land Court, the trial on the proposed Middle Campus Project that had been slated to begin last week has been postponed until March 30.

University Associate General Counsel Joseph Herlihy said, "The rescheduling was not granted on a motion by the City of Newton, but rather was necessitated by Land Court scheduling constraints which came to light at a pretrial conference held before Judge Karyn Scheier on Monday, Dec. 1.

"Although the University was fully prepared, and the judge willing, to begin trial on the scheduled date of Dec. 3, the judge stated that if the trial was not completed in three consecutive days, dates for continuance would not be available until February or March," Herlihy said.

"Believing that a full and fair trial on this matter will take five or six days, and that long interruptions in the course of the trial would not be in the interests of either of the parties, attorneys for the University requested that the court schedule six consecutive trial days," he added. "The earliest the judge could meet this request was in late March."

Boston College is appealing the October 1996 decision of the Newton Board of Aldermen to deny a special permit for the Middle Campus Project, which proposes construction of three buildings and the demolition of McElroy Commons. It would provide the University with an academic building, Monan Hall, that would include classroom and faculty office space, and a new student center.

BC is appealing on two main legal grounds, said Herlihy: that the project is, in fact, worthy of a special permit based on its merits - the denial, therefore, being arbitrary and capricious; and that the city's current zoning restrictions applying to Middle Campus are unlawful.

Associate Vice President for State and Community Relations Paul White expressed frustration with the delay, but said the University is ready to move forward with the case at any time.

"It's frustrating because these are facilities Boston College desperately needs to get moving on. There is a great need on campus for faculty office space and a new student center," White said. "BC needs this project."

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