GU’s 2010 Campus Plan gets nod in mayoral candidate debate

Well, what do you know—Foxhall residents have a few reasons hate the 2010 Campus Plan, too!

At last night’s mayoral candidate debate, an audience member from Foxhall, an affluent neighborhood north of both the University and Burleith, asked the three candidates what they thought of a few elements of the 2010 Campus Plan—specifically, its plans to “build a 30-foot roof over Yates [Editor's note: they mean Kehoe], which already towers above the forest behind Georgetown,” erect an 83-foot smokestack over its power plant, and build a service road on an “already fragile embankment.”

So, what do D.C. mayoral candidates think (and know) about Georgetown’s 2010 Campus Plan?

We’ll start with former TV news reporter Leo Alexander‘s answer, which was ludicrous. He began by laying out his in-touch-with-the-community creds, telling the audience that he’d actually attended a meeting about Georgetown University, where he “heard all about Georgetown and its students and all the nuisances they’ve caused returning home from bars and parties at night.” Cheap shot, Leo. Then his answer got weird.

“Georgetown University is not going anywhere. They can threaten all they want,” he concluded. “They may say, ‘If you don’t let us do whatever we want, we’re packing up,’ but they’re not going anywhere.” As a final note, he added that he wanted Georgetown to build more on-campus housing and establish a board that enlists the opinions of neighbors.

Umm … what? We’re kind of curious to know what gave Alexander the idea that (1) the oldest university in the city, which has invested its image, millions of dollars, and hundreds of jobs in three major D.C. campuses has ever threatened to leave D.C. (and go where? Rosslyn?) if the city doesn’t allow it to build a minor service road for its food delivery trucks and buses, and (2) that neighbors would be real broken up if Georgetown did leave, and need reassurance that Georgetown is here to stay.

We’re just wondering. Because Alexander’s ridiculous musings about the 2010 Campus Plan have officially made him the awardee of Vox‘s Craziest Theories About Georgetown title—usurping it from Stephen R. Brown, who thinks that a cabal of Georgetown Jesuits are planning to build an entirely new hospital facility in Burleith (and who takes secret photos of students from bushes).

By contrast, City Council Chair Vincent Gray seems to know what he’s talking about. He started by rattling off the plan’s hottest numbers—it adds about 2,500 graduate students, 150 housing units, and 1,000 parking spaces—with accuracy.

“That seems inadequate to me,” he said. “[Georgetown] is an important part of the city. But there has to be a balance between the University, the community, and the people who have chosen to live in the vicinity of the University. The bottom line to me is having a campus plan that has the input of the citizens.”

Unsurprisingly, the candidate with the least amount of patience for this question was Mayor Adrian Fenty. He payed brief lip-service to balancing the interests of importance institutions with neighborhood interests, then dedicated the rest of his two-minute response to a rebuttal of something Gray critical had said about the Anacostia River cleanup and the bag tax.

Fenty’s disdain for residential concerns was on display at other points in the debate, too. When asked about community concerns about over-development, his answer mostly had to do with how much development had taken place under his administration. He also defended his recent choice to appoint more developers (i.e. people who are not likely to side with concerned residents) to the three person, all-developer Zoning Commission instead of community voices. (Hilariously enough, this actually may help Georgetown once its 2010 Campus Plan goes before the Zoning Commission).

Finally, a few notes about the question itself. The resident who wrote the question said that Foxhall is the guardian of much of the City’s greenspace, so it seems that a lot of his or her concerns have an ecological bent to them. But that 83-foot smokestack? Although Georgetown and Burleith citizens associations have wasted no time in implying that it will pollute the surrounding neighborhood, they have yet to produce any evidence that it actually will. They have also been told by the University (and EPA permitting standards back this up) that the smokestack will not produce any more emissions than it already is. Still, the big-equals-bad line of reasoning is holding up amongst residents.

Second, the road on the “fragile embankment” is for service vehicles and GUTS buses. Why GUTS buses? Because Georgetown and Burleith residents have moaned about the travesty of having to share the road with GUTS buses so unrelentingly that Georgetown is rerouting all bus lines except one out of the Canal Road exit, meaning that it needs a way to turn the buses around inside campus. If Foxhall residents want to eliminate the need for that road, they’ll need to take it up with West Georgetown.

22 Comments on “GU’s 2010 Campus Plan gets nod in mayoral candidate debate

  1. “smokestack will not produce any more emissions than it already is”.

    Good. So, why is GU reluctant to commit that they will not increase emissions? Why do they need to build the smokestack at all? Mhhh, because they are polluting the air on campus maybe? And why is your employer not producing any evidence or study that their emissions will not pollute the neighborhood. They did a study about the campus right? So you either keep your “safe” pollutants on campus or start making some sense.

    Molly, since you seem to know everything, if the emissions are not harmful at all and GU will not increase production what is all the fuss about keeping the current smokestack? Please enlighten us and take a deep breath next time you are on campus.

    “it adds about 2,500 graduate students, 150 housing units, and 1,000 parking spaces—with accuracy”

    That’s actually inaccurate.

  2. I, for one, support Mister Alexander’s call for a board to enlist the opinion of neighbors. It is shocking that Burleith and Georgetown have no organizations or institutions established to transmit neighbor concerns to the University. These neighborhoods should have citizens associations and advisory commissions to effectively and vociferously engage the University over its positively Hitlerian desire to expand!

  3. Hey GT supporter,

    Vox is a student-run blog, so when you call its writers Georgetown employees, “that’s actually inaccurate.” Go ahead and add Georgetown media to the list of things you don’t understand. You might be able to fit it between “How wind works” and “Making substantiated claims.”

  4. I’m not molly but i can answer – the numbers are actually fairly accurate – an increase of 2475 graduate students, 120 beds, and 700 proposed parking spaces. Also next time you want to speculate about the university’s “evil” intentions you should probably read it first. here’s an excerpt from the campus plan explaining the reasoning if the proposed height of the chimney

    • Plant operates under an EPA Title V Permit, which only allows the use of natural gas or #2 
    fuel oil to operate boilers and specifies limits on emissions
    • The University purchases natural gas and ultra‐low sulfur #2 fuel oil to operate boilers to 
    generate steam and purchases electricity to operate chillers to generate chilled water
    • An annual report on emissions is submitted to the EPA
    • The plant emits only a fraction of what is allowable and is the cleanest high pressure 
    plant in DC
    • Emissions must be exhausted above buildings to avoid re‐entrainment (entry into building
    through window, air intake or other opening.)  Current exhaust flues are not tall enough 
    to prevent re‐entrainment.
    • Engineered wind tunnel study indicated that chimney height of 100 feet above plant roof 
    prevented re‐entrainment while 50 feet did not.  Both heights resulted in acceptable 
    dilution and dissipation of emissions.  Chimney of 83 feet above plant roof exhausts 
    above the top of the Southwest Quadrangle and should prevent re‐entrainment.
    • Additional chimney height does not add to capacity of plant

  5. Yes, Georgetown University, I am running for Mayor and I will bow down to whatever you want. It is not about merits or ethics, but it is about a big bully University running over a community for the sake of its own prestige and dollars. It is shamefully embarrassing to see how the President DeGioia, and GU’s Board of Directors have zero business ethics, but since I am running for Mayor, I need to ignore that fact.

  6. *of course i mean “read the Campus Plan first”

  7. The Campus Plan was written by Georgetown University. OF COURSE, everything in that plan is accurate and absolutely not harmful to the community. Gosh, GU is nothing but honest and caring about the community and not self-serving at all. Silly neighbors, they obviously have no idea.

  8. and thank god there are the virtuous citizens who remind us how disgustingly awful the university actually is. Gosh, this Jesuit institution is sure going to burn in hell. Thank you citizens.

  9. Wait, so the criticism is that they won’t commit to saying that they won’t increase emissions. Then @GT supporter gives information that says quite plainly that the university IS committing to not increasing emissions. And now @@GT supporter responds with sarcasm saying they can’t be trusted anyway even if they DO, in fact, commit to not increasing emissions.

    Does this make sense? They’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t?

  10. The neighbors are completely unreasonable. The university is not evil. Nothing Georgetown is trying to do is bad or going to hurt the community. Georgetown is part of the community. The neighbors are just ignorant, uninformed, narcissistic, liars.

  11. dear p, while i completely agree with you on your opinion about the neighbors, lets keep it classier than they do. In related news, here’s yet another proof of how civilized the neighbors are (from the Georgetown University 2010-2020 Campus Plan Issues Report from February 4, 2010):

    “6.09 My goal is to make sure students get felony
    arrests on their record before leaving
    Georgetown. ” Neighbor

    The chivalrous University’s response to the comment was simply “Thank you for your comment. This is not our goal.”

    thank god

  12. For the record, Foxhall doesn’t hate Georgetown. Barely any students move out here and the forest between us and the Hospital blocks out any signs that the University even exists. Which is the reason most of us live here instead of in Burlieth.

    Just wanted to establish this early on before our name gets dragged into the Burlieth/West Georgetown mix.

  13. FUNNY that you take the “Georgetown University Issues Report,” as some sort of factual representation of the meetings that occurred. This so called Report, is just another example of how the University in its dishonest brokering turns a community meeting into something other than it was. There were many many comments that were more representative of the neighbors arguments, but somehow these are the type that make it in the report. GU is doing its usual fabulous job of falsely depicting itself and the neighbor comments, so as to build its deceitful case to the City. There are plenty of facts the neighbors have about student comments and actions, so be careful in throwing rocks in a glass house.

  14. Oh. My. God.
    Where did this big university come from? They want to expand? I’m flabbergasted! I assumed it was still a small community of priests teaching a few dozen boys from Maryland and Virginia! And why can’t all students live in Old North. That’s what they did when I moved here in 1884, dammit! And I heard the peach baskets were replaced with metal circles.

  15. Again read the goddamn thing (this time the issues report) before commenting about it!!! seems that neighbors (who i thought were intelligent people) seem to know only one thing – the GU administration and community are bad. well, guess what? you’re wrong. stupid twats

  16. Because the University hasn’t listened to the community at all, completely ignored their suggestions, and done whatever they want, right?

    Wait, they compromised on a number of facets (graduate school admissions, size of bed expansion, size of parking additions, routes of university shuttles, neighborhood policing)? A majority of which are unpopular with students? How about that…

    As for the blatant pandering that these candidates have subscribed to, that is a product of students in this city refusing to organize themselves. If they registered as voters here, they might actually have a voice in what happens in their community.

  17. I’m actually okay with the the “big bad University” running over whatever other Georgetown residents feel is in the best interest of “their” community. In the long run, these Georgetown students are going to do about 3308320846% more for the world than y’all, who seem to have nothing better to do than complain about Georgetown students. Where did y’all go to school–Cornell? Penn? Too bad you didn’t get in to Vanderbilt or Penn State Honors program. While you’re busy hating on social justice, those kids will be out achieving real equity. I may have stumbled upon this blog by accident, but at least my head isn’t in my own ass.

  18. The gtown vs. resident war has been going on for decades. It won’t end. Gtown needs to understand that (1) they only need to make a genuine effort to work with their neighbors and (2) no matter what the school says, the residents will be dead set against it. In the larger scheme or things, the residents are their own undoing because they let crazy people speak for them.

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