The university’s next 10-year plan for campus development remains in limbo after Georgetown residents expressed dissatisfaction with the plan at a May 30 community planning meeting.
At the meeting in May, Georgetown residents voiced concerns with the plan, citing in particular the university’s intention to expand off-campus student housing. Residents have been critical of the university’s plans for campus development since discussion of the matter opened in a community meeting in November 2008.
The District of Columbia mandates that all nonprofit institutions of higher learning create infrastructure expansion plans every decade. Georgetown’s current plan expires in December 2010, and a steering committee of administrative and academic officials has been in the process of designing a new master plan for campus development since the fall of 2008.
Before the university’s plan can receive approval from the Zoning Commission, the campus plan must be presented to the greater Georgetown community.
“The frustration of residents related to students living off campus deals mostly with noise complaints,” said Aaron Golds (COL ’11), the Georgetown student representative on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. “The residents want students to make noise on campus and not next door to where they live and sleep,” he said.
In a statement by university representatives in the Issues Report of the Georgetown University Campus Plan team on Jan. 16, the university acknowledged the neighbors’ point of view, but did not indicate that off-campus student housing will be reduced in response to their concerns.
“We appreciate the concerns of residents and have a comprehensive program to educate students on the responsibilities of citizenship and to set high expectations for them,” representatives for the campus plan team stated.
At a mandatory orientation session held by the Office of Off Campus Student Life on Aug. 31, students living in off-campus housing were asked to sign Code of Student Conduct contracts.
“As a mandatory condition for the approval of our campus plan, Georgetown University has been ordered by the District of Columbia Regulatory Agency, the Board of Zoning Adjustment, to require all of its students to certify in writing their adherence to the Student Code of Conduct,” the contract stated.
Golds said trash complaints are another factor in the discussion, and that much of the greater Georgetown community would prefer student housing to be contained entirely within campus boundaries.
“The addition of on-campus housing is something the neighbors generally support, as it would move students back on campus and out of the neighborhood,” Golds said.
Although no expansion decisions have been finalized, several distinct projects have emerged as the focus of the 2010-2020 campus plan. According to the campus plan Web site, the steering committee has outlined proposals for expanding the library, including an option to build additional library space along Library Walk across from Lauinger Library and New South Hall. Other proposals include the possible expansion of McDonough Gymnasium to accommodate anywhere from 6,500 to 8,000 people and possible renovations and additions to the medical center.
The most dramatic construction proposals being considered, however, would greatly expand university housing. The targeted areas of expansion include Henle Village, Harbin Patio, Poulton Hall, LXR Hall and the alleyway between stores and restaurants on 36th Street and university townhouses on 37th Street.
Residents have also expressed strong views on the proposed construction in this alley.
“First, [the residents] would prefer that any housing built [in the alley] be for professors or graduate students and not undergraduates,” Golds said. “Second, there are concerns about building density and whether a three- or four-story building on the block is too much for the neighborhood.”
According to Golds, other minor community concerns deal with issues such as GUTS bus schedules and routes, parking and hospital construction.
University spokesperson Julie Bataille said that there have not been any updates on the campus plan since the May 30 meeting. Golds confirmed that several more community meetings will be conducted, and that the ANC will have the opportunity to approve the plan before it is passed to the Zoning Commission. “