Met by complaints and campaigns from Burleith and Georgetown residents, Georgetown presented the final version of its 2010 Campus Plan to members of the Georgetown community Monday evening. Administrators are aiming to submit the final plan to the D.C. Zoning Commission for approval in early summer.

Monday’s meeting at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School was the long-awaited sequel to a series of meetings in November 2009 at which residents of neighborhoods surrounding the university voiced their concerns over Georgetown’s proposed construction projects for the coming decade.

Under District laws, Georgetown University, along with all other D.C. universities located in residential areas, is required to submit a plan for new construction projects every 10 years. Georgetown’s 2000 Campus Plan is set to expire on Dec. 31 of this year, according to Linda Greenan, assistant vice president of external relations, who headed the meeting with university architect Alan Brangman.

The final 2010 plan included several changes from the initial draft released in the fall. Following neighborhood input, the planned convocation center was nixed, Students’ Neighborhood Action Program cars’ weekend presence was tapped for an increase, and boosted weekend patrols by the Department of Public Safety and the Metropolitan Police Department were encouraged.

While Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson referred to the plan in a Friday meeting as moderate and representative of all stakeholders’ interests, members of the Burleith Citizens Association and the Citizens Association of Georgetown expressed disappointment Monday evening and said that many of their grievances had not been addressed in the revised final version. Attendees were informed at the start of the meeting that the plan before them would not likely change prior to its submission to the D.C. Zoning Commission.

“This is essentially the framework of the plan. We don’t intend any changes before submitting to the commission,” Greenan said.

BCA president Lenore Rubino said that Georgetown had not adequately dealt with the BCA’s concerns.

“The main issues of noise, alcohol-related problems and behavioral issues are much larger than these revisions. Nor does [the Campus Plan] take into account the increased burden on Burleith, Georgetown and the surrounding communities for the increase in graduate enrollment,” Rubino said.

During a BCA meeting Wednesday, Rubino and members of the BCA shared their concerns with their fellow residents. Using the results of a survey performed by members of the BCA, Rubino and others demonstrated their fears that undergraduate and graduate renters were overrunning Burleith. According to the BCA’s survey, 41 percent of the 531 houses in Burleith are rented. The BCA also said that Burleith was the home of 425 Georgetown students in fall.

The BCA and CAG have pushed the university to build more housing on campus in order to keep more undergraduates within Healy Gates all four years. Under the new plan, however, no additional housing will be built on campus.

Despite Georgetown’s efforts to house students on campus – 84 percent of undergraduates are housed on campus following the creation of the Southwest Quad in 2003 – and its pledge in the 2010 plan to cap traditional undergraduate enrollment at its current level of 6,016, the main point of contention for Georgetown residents has become graduate students.

The new plan proposes enrolling 2,475 additional graduate students over the next 10 years, a significant decrease from the version of the plan presented in November. The concerns of residents seem to have played little part in this reduction, however: Greenan announced Monday that the decrease in the final plan was due solely to recent revelations that there has already been a substantial increase of graduate students in 2010. At the same time, the university will construct apartments in the block of 37th and 36th Streets between N and Prospect Streets in order to provide 120 new beds for graduate students.

CAG President Jennifer Altemus (COL ’88) found the extra 120 beds to be inadequate and did not believe the university was taking sufficient measures to account for the new spike in graduate students.

In addition to concerns over community identity, Georgetown residents have also expressed their worries about the noise and disturbance Georgetown students tend to cause on weekends. The university has taken steps in the 2010 plan to address these concerns by calling for the addition of three MPD detail officers on the weekends, installing community advisers in Burleith and West Georgetown and instituting a second SNAP patrol car to monitor the neighborhood.

Olson said that the addition of the second SNAP car, first introduced in January, has been effective. Not all residents agree with his assessment, however.

“[The addition is like] trying to put out a raging forest fire with a bucket of water,” said BCA Vice President Walter Hillabrant.

Other contested issues between the university and the community include the rerouting of GUTS buses through the Canal Street entrance, additional parking spaces on campus and a proposed 83-foot chimney on top of the university’s heating and cooling plant. On Monday evening, the university proposal to add retail space on the same block slated for graduate student housing also received heated criticism from residents in attendance.

It seems that the vocal opposition from residents will do little to deter the university from moving forward. According to Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner-2E Student Commissioner Aaron Golds (COL ’11), the next step forward in the process will come when the university formally files the 2010 Campus Plan with the D.C. Zoning Commission and the D.C. Office of Planning.

This meeting is not the final avenue of dissent for residents: The D.C. Zoning Commission traditionally

values the input of the ANC. According to ANC Chairman Ron Lewis, the ANC 2E representing Georgetown, Burleith and Hillandale, Md., will gather information on the sentiments surrounding the plan once it has been submitted to the Zoning Commission. The seven commissioners of ANC 2E will then convene and vote on how to advise the D.C. Zoning Commission.

For groups like the BCA and the CAG, the next step will involve filing for party status at the formal hearing of the Georgetown Campus Plan before the D.C. Zoning Commission. According to Altemus, party status at the hearing would provide the BCA and the CAG with the opportunity to formally present their opposition to the Campus Plan.

Other hurdles the 2010 Campus Plan will have to scale include an evaluation by the D.C. Office of Planning and a review by the Old Georgetown Board. The Chief of Staff of the Office of Planning Tanya Washington described the office’s role in dealing with the Campus Plan. She said that the Office of Planning will consider community feedback and then make its recommendation about the plan to the Zoning Commission.

“OP will assess the plan and comments from the community and other agencies and make a recommendation to the Zoning Commission at their public hearing,” said Washington.

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts appoints three architects to the Old Georgetown Board who hold the responsibility of preserving the historic district of Georgetown. According to Lewis, whose wife serves on the board, the three architects will only have an influence on the Campus Plan much later in the future when it comes to the outward appearance of the university’s new building projects.

 

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