Olson discusses Campus Plan changes
After ongoing negative feedback by residents of surrounding communities to Georgetown’s 2010 Campus Plan, the university has introduced a number of amendments to the plan in a Pre-Hearing Submission filed with the DC Zoning Commission on March 31. The submission modifies parts of the Campus Plan, which is due to be taken up by the Zoning Commission starting April 14.
Most significantly, the submission calls for adding 250 undergraduate beds either on-campus or at a satellite location outside of residential portions of zip code 20007, and for relocating 1,000 students in the Graduate School of Continuing Studies away from the main campus to satellite locations. Other changes include commitments by the University to reduce its proposed enrollment cap from 16,133 students to 15,000 students and to construct an internal loop roadway to help route university buses away from neighborhood streets.
In an interview with the Hoya and the Voice, Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson said that the changes were in direct response to concerns raised by members of the community and officials at the D.C. Department of Transportation and Office of Planning.
“We really believe we’ve worked […] to respond to some of the issues and concerns that these stakeholders have raised with us,” Olson said.
Olson indicated that by the fall of 2014 the University will either be housing students in new off-campus beds or will have made further applications to the Zoning Commission for a new on-campus dorm. As a result, the University is currently in the process of evaluating potential spaces for the location of new beds, with one proposal focusing on the current Georgetown Hotel in Leavey as a potential site.
“One of the options, and I want to make clear that this […] is not a final decision by any means, is that we may look at turning the Leavey Center Hotel into a residence hall,” Olson said.
When asked about several sites that were previously brought up as potential spaces for new facilities, including Harbin Patio and North Kehoe Field, Olson acknowledged that utilizing these sites would be difficult.
“We don’t believe that any of those sites are optimal,” Olson said. “All those sites have major challenges that go with them.”
Olson also noted that the University is committed to moving “some part” of the School of Continuing Studies off-site by the end of 2013, but that the school has not yet decided on a location for a satellite campus.
“I think [we’re considering] areas that would be accessible to a metro station and would be reasonably appealing to students that might study there,” Olson explained.
Olson stated that while changes to the campus plan were made in response to community concerns, the modifications were not a direct result of negotiations with opposed parties.
“We have made these adjustments just in good faith,” Olson said.
However, members of ANC 2E, which previously voted 6-1 to adopt a recommendation to the Zoning Commission opposing the Campus Plan, have indicated that the pre-hearing submission has done little to change their minds.
At the ANC’s meeting Tuesday evening, commission chairman Ron Lewis asked members who had supported the resolution if they wished to alter their votes in light of the changes, with no commissioners indicating they wished to do so.
“I don’t believe anything in here responds nearly adequately to the points we’ve made,” said Lewis. “So, we will not change our final recommendations to the Zoning Commission.”
When asked if the University would consider modifying the Campus Plan further if community members remained opposed, Olson indicated only that he considered the current modifications to be an “appropriate set of responses” to concerns.
“That’s the best way I can characterize our position right now,” Olson said.