Public authorities have been used throughout the United States to address infrastructure and human service issues when tax revenues were lacking. Numbering more than 40,000 nation-wide, the public authority financing mechanism remains popular. It is appropriate to note the passing of an individual who was instrumental in promoting the use of public authorities to address one of the more significant urban environmental issues of the era.
Charles Haar, a former Harvard Law Professor who died yesterday at age 91, was in 1983 appointed Special Master to address contamination on Boston beaches resulting from raw municipal sewage and other sources. At his insistence and with the support of Governor Dukakis, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority was created as an independent entity to fund needed improvements. The creation of the Authority served as the catalyst for the clean-up of Boston Harbor.