The University is formulating its 2010 Campus Plan, which, once it passes ANC and D.C. Zoning Commission muster, will dictate how the University can expand over the next decade. Previous Campus Plans excluded neighborhood input in their planning stages, much to the neighbors’ dismay. So this summer, University officials will hold a series of meetings to gather community input. For those of you who aren’t here, Vox will be attending all meetings and recapping them here on the blog. Keep in mind that the proposals under discussion are only tentative. At the same time, they do comprise, as University architect Alan Brangman told Vox, Georgetown University’s “wishlist.”
On Sunday, Molly Redden offered an overview of Saturday’s six-hour-long community meeting (yes, we stayed the whole time, and not just for the paltry cold cuts lunch buffet). The first part of the meeting, in which the campus plan’s architects from Cooper, Robertson & Partners presented their overview of possible options for campus development, went rather smoothly and quite quickly. But only because most of the attendees were champing at the bit to get to the next, and last, item on the meeting’s agenda: the open discussion.
Having attended a community meeting before, in which “open discussion” was the only agenda, I steeled myself for a long afternoon of student berating. There was, in fact, less than I expected—as Molly will cover on Thursday, Georgetown neighbors spent as much time hammering the University on the “adverse impact” of the traffic it draws to the area as they did bemoaning the students’ day-to-day drunkenness, noisiness, littering and general lack of consideration for others.
University architect Alan Brangman kicked off the discussion with a presentation of the University’s physical boundaries, which were set in 1966 by the National Capital Planning Commission. Brangman had a brief tiff with one of the neighbors over boundary lines, specifically regarding the houses on the 36th Street between O and P Streets and the 3500 block of Prospect Street, which Georgetown acquired after boundaries were set. The houses’ backyards fall within University property lines—the houses themselves do not.
The houses, however, are considered on-campus, or at least their beds are included in the on-campus bed count. The neighbor took issue with this tactic, because he and his fellow community members consider the houses off-campus. Essentially, they are unsettled by the “gray area” surrounding Georgetown’s loose definition of on-campus beds—if the University can buy up houses outside the property lines and count them as on-campus, what’s to stop it from encroaching further into the neighborhood?
The question is a valid one. While Georgetown hasn’t expanded much more into the neighborhood, Associate Vice President for External Relations Linda Greenan said that when houses come up for sale, often the University takes a look at them, adding for reassurance, perhaps: “and often we don’t buy them.”
Nevertheless, Georgetown and the community members seem to be at an impasse. Brangman said that currently there are no plans to change the “on-campus” status of the disputed student townhouses. In a particularly heated moment, a neighbor offered Brangman the analogy: “Just because [you] own a gun doesn’t mean you can shoot me.”
“But I might,” Brangman said.
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