Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

ANC Commissioners Vote for Area Lighting Initiative

The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously agreed to a university request Tuesday to install four additional lampposts on streets near campus.

The Student Safety Advisory Board had requested the additional lampposts at 3409 and 3609 O Street NW and at 3515 and 3608 N Street at an Oct. 5 meeting. The commission tabled the resolution in order to provide time to properly notify residents.

The advisory board chose the locations after a survey showed that those areas were of particular concern to students traveling late at night. Meredith Mellody (COL ’05), a representative of the Student Safety Advisory Board, informed the commission that every resident affected had been given a flyer informing them of the proposal and the discussion at the ANC meeting.

“The Georgetown University students have done a good job in notifying affected residents of the need for additional street lighting,” Commissioner Tom Birch said.

Victoria Rixey, president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, said that her organization had also contacted residents and that “everyone that responded was in favor of more lighting.”

Rixey also noted, however, that the proposed lights fall in locations in which a lamppost already exists on the opposite side of the street.

Commissioner Michael Glick (COL ’05), however, called on the commission to put safety before aesthetics.

“Many people will complain that too many lights in certain areas make for a garish-looking neighborhood,” Glick said. “But I believe that in certain areas of town, we need to sacrifice `beauty’ for the well being of the constituents living in that area. Students may care less about aesthetics than about maintaining a sense of comfort with our surroundings.”

After urging from Birch, the commission decided to make an addition to the motion that would allow the District Department of Transportation some discretion in implementing the lighting improvements. If lampposts were not possible, at least some improvement should be made by the DDOT, so it would not be an “all-or-nothing” situation, Birch said.

“I hope that the city will take our request seriously and take the necessary action to improve the street lighting in the neighborhood,” Birch said.

Glick said he was enthusiastic about the passage of the motion.

“I commend my fellow commissioners for approving tonight’s motion unanimously,” Glick said. “By no means is tonight’s motion a home run, or a guarantee that action will be taken immediately to produce lampposts in that area. But tonight we stood up and said that we believe student safety is important and if students desire improved lighting, then we will encourage DDOT to do whatever it takes to make that a reality.”

The meeting also served as an opportunity to update the residents on the recent townhouse fire at 3318 Prospect St., which resulted in the death of Daniel Rigby (MSB ’05), and the measures the university is taking to ensure the safety of students living off campus.

Many attacked what they called substandard conditions some students are living in after being evicted from townhouses for fire safety reasons. Criticism was also aimed at attempts by some landlords to prevent inspections by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

The Student Housing Association, a private group that rents several townhouses to Georgetown students, has placed signs in its properties advising students to refuse entry to safety inspectors after an area-wide series of inspections was initiated last week by District officials in response to the fatal fire.

“The attitude that it suggests, as I see it, is only pertaining to the owner, and a disregard for the safety of the students,” Birch said. “It’s a very disturbing fact to realize that this kind of attitude has prevailed in our community.”

Chuck VanSant, director of off-campus student life, informed the community of the exact number of affected students and their current housing situations. He called the response to the house fire a “remarkable event” that has been “positive and reaffirming.”

“The community has been great,” VanSant said.

Resident Elizabeth Ridout was dismayed that “it takes this kind of tragedy to bring attention to” fire safety concerns in student townhouses. She also was surprised that the university claimed to have no knowledge of housing violations in residences where students lived.

After the meeting, Brett Clements (COL ’07), who is running unopposed in next week’s election for Glick’s current position in single member district 2E04, warned students to put their safety before relations with their landlords.

“I would urge everyone living off campus who has not yet had their house inspected to do so as soon as possible,” Clements said. “Your personal safety is infinitely more important than your relationship with your landlord. You have the right to have your house inspected and need to take advantage of this opportunity.”

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