Category Archives: Town and Gown

WaPo Editorial Page Wades into 10 Year Plan Fight

Photo by Dionhinchliffe.

On Sunday, the Washington Post published an editorial on the Georgetown University campus plan. It was highly critical of the DC Office of Planning and the effort by community groups to insist that the final plan call for the housing of all undergraduate students on campus.

They write:

Imagine a city telling its largest private employer — one that pays millions in taxes and salaries, strives to hire local residents and voluntarily does community service — that it can’t grow anymore, that it might have to cut back. That seems far-fetched in light of today’s scary economy, but it’s essentially what D.C. officials are telling Georgetown University by insisting it either house all its students or cut back enrollment. The District seems distressingly disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy.

The editorial attempts to contrast the Office of Planning’s position against the city’s overall goal of adding residents. It argues that:

What’s most troubling about the city’s posture is the notion that an increase in young people, particularly those in search of an education, is somehow undesirable. What happened to the idea that these are the very kind of people that should be lured to make the District their home?

It’s an interesting argument. And it’s definitely the case that the presence of universities greatly contributes towards making a city a haven for the so-called Creative Class. But to suggest that the city is “disinterested in promoting a knowledge-based economy” simply because it maintains enrollment caps on universities is a bit hysterical. Besides, the vast majority of jobs in this city are either in the government or government-related, which will be here whether GU enrolls 14,000 or 15,000. Also, the editorial seems to have been written by someone without a strong familiarity with the situation; before it was corrected, the editorial talked about the neighborhood of “Fox Hollow”.

But that is really beside the point. What GM finds most interesting about this editorial is that it is clearly the product of a concerted lobbying campaign by GU. The thrust of the article is directed at the Office of Planning report, but that was issued in May. The only reason the Post is writing about this now is that the final Zoning Commission hearings are coming up. Continue reading

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Georgetown University Planning New Athletic Training Center

As reported by The Hoya, Georgetown University is moving forward with a plan for a large new athletic training facility. The plans call for a 125,000 square foot building that will, according to the Hoya ” house practice courts, locker rooms, team meeting rooms and coaches’ offices for the men’s and women’s basketball programs. Locker rooms for men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse as well as weight training facilities and training room areas for all varsity athletes are also slated to be built.”

The building has actually been on the drawing board for quite a while. It was even included in Georgetown’s 2000 campus plan. It is included again in GU’s most recent proposed plan. The proposal calls for the building to be constructed where the tennis courts now stand:

GM has heard that GU intends to rebuild the tennis courts on top of the new building.

GU is coming before the Old Georgetown Board next month for approvals. Which means they’ll be stopping by the ANC a few days before. And it wouldn’t be a GU matter before the ANC if it didn’t somehow get wrapped up in the campus plan. But this time it’s actually not a stretch! Continue reading

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The ANC’s Anti-Ten Year Plan Resolution: Conduct Section

Monday night, the ANC adopted a resolution opposing G.U.’s proposed ten year campus plan. GM’s already taken a closer look at the enrollment section and the transportation section. Today he’ll take a look at the last section, the one regarding student behavior off-campus.

The ANC’s approach is pretty simple and concise: they simply stated that the measures previously taken by G.U. and those proposed are inadequate to address the negative impact that student behavior has on the non-student population.

The strategy being taken by the ANC is to put the burden on G.U. to develop a program that is adequate. And it further argues that if G.U. doesn’t present an adequate plan, the Zoning Commission should reduce G.U.’s student cap until their are fewer students in the neighborhood.

And what are the steps that G.U. has put forward which the ANC considers so inadequate?:

  • Three reimbursable detail police officers stationed in trouble spots
  • A second SNAP car at night
  • Two G.U. staff members living off campus among the students to supervise them
  • New community contract to be signed by all off-campus students
  • Additional shuttles around the neighborhood to give students a ride back to the campus. Continue reading

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About that Ten Year Plan…

Last night, the ANC held a special meeting to discuss one topic: Georgetown University’s Ten Year Plan. Labeled a factual inquiry meeting, the ANC invited input from the university, the four area citizens associations (Georgetown, Burleith, Foxhall, and Hillandale), and the public. Located in the expanded space of the Duke Ellington School theater, the meeting drew a large (although not packed) audience.

The lengthy meeting was separated into four topic sessions: residential living concerns, plans for the hospital, transportation, and student enrollment numbers.

Residential Living Concerns

This was truly the heart of the meeting, and the primary reason most people attended. After relatively perfunctory opening remarks, the session turned promptly over to public questions (and a good deal of public rhetorical questions too).

A steady stream of Georgetown and Burleith residents testified as to the negative impact students were having on their quality of life. Suffice it to say, it was pretty much what you’d except a bunch of Georgetowners and Burleithians to say if asked what they think of Georgetown students living in the neighborhood.

And, it should also be said, that a relatively small but determined group of G.U. students also testified. Perhaps recognizing that the deck is pretty much stacked against them, they didn’t so much offer a strong defense of the plan but rather a criticism of the criticism of the plan. Also, they offered a petition that was apparently signed by over 700 people, although it was followed by a discussion on IP addresses and whether the people that signed the petition are even really from Georgetown.

But setting aside the discussion of the qualitative impact students have had, the core of this portion of the debate surrounded whether Georgetown can and should build more on-campus housing. The short answer from the Georgetown representatives (Provost Jim O’Donnell, Senior VP of Administration Spiros Dimolitsas, and Dean of Student Affairs Todd Olson) is that the university rejects the notion that another dormitory could be built on campus. The neighbors think that’s wrong.

This led to a long discussion where the two sides were simply talking past each other. Georgetown is insistent that the plan is good because it caps the number of undergrad at 6,675 (GM will get to what that means later). They simply want to increase graduate enrollment by about 2,000 (which would bring the total main campus enrollment to 16,133, a 14% increase over today’s roughly 14,000 number.)

This led to a somewhat fractured response from the neighbors because: A) the plan doesn’t address the neighbor’s assertion that there are too many undergrads and not enough dorms and B) while you mention it, they don’t really want more graduate students either. By failing to address the two issues separately, the neighbors arguments occasionally got muddled.

While expansion of new metro-accessible locations for graduate programs would be desirable (one of the solutions mentioned), there’s no doubt that the be-all-end-all issue is the question of more dorms. The school says they looked and there’s no space. The neighbors say look harder, there is. Students say they wouldn’t want to live there anyway. Wash, rinse, repeat.

As this process moves forward, GM can’t help but think that this central question is all that will really matter. And both sides have made their respective cases. Ultimately it will be up to the Zoning Commission to determine the outcome. (By the way, the first Zoning Commission hearing on the plan is on April 14th). Continue reading

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The Morning Metropolitan

Photo from Key Bridge by Brownpau.

Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

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We’re Not So Different After All

This weekend the New York Times published a fascinating chart displaying the top ten movie rentals for each zip code according to Netflix. Various other blogs have already commented on how this chart reflects stark sociological differences across the region, but GM was particularly drawn to a much more local issue.

Georgetown is made up of two zip codes: 20057 and 20007. The first contains only the university. The second contains all the full-year residents (as well as Burleith, Glover Park and the Palisades). Thus 20007 is “Town” and 20057 is “Gown.”

So how do our choices match up?

Town:

Gown:

Continue reading

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