Mount Vernon Campus plan moves closer to submission

Correction appended

A proposal to add academic space and increase the limit of students and professors on the Mount Vernon campus will be submitted to the D.C. Zoning Commission later this month, but a major community group expects the opportunity to review the plan before it is approved.

The new plan proposes a 15 percent increase in on-campus Mount Vernon students and an additional 83 professors working full time on the campus. The plan also proposes to demolish the residential building Cole Hall to replace with classrooms, and convert Ames Dining hall into academic space.

Susi Cora, the director of Planning and Project Management, said the University has held multiple meetings, including one as recently as Nov. 5, to discuss the campus plan with Mount Vernon residents over “issues of shared interest” that include future development, sustainable practices, storm water management and campus perimeter treatment.

“As a result of these community meetings, the proposed campus plan has taken shape in a way that both achieves GW’s goals and addresses areas of community concern,” Cora said, citing the closure of the W Street campus entrance and enhancements to the Whitehaven entrance, which “limits GW-related vehicular impacts to adjacent residential homes.”

In mid-October, leaders of the Foxhall-Palisades Advisory Neighborhood Comission criticized GW officials for composing the plan behind the scenes while making the process appear transparent, and threatened to delay development plans if they were not given a chance to review them.

ANC Chair Betsy Sandza said she expects to be able to review the plan with her fellow commissioners and make changes if necessary.

Sandza said that the ANC has not yet made any push to delay plans, but “if we’re not given adequate time [to review the plans], we’ll ask the zoning commission for a delay,” Sandza said.

“It’s a process, everybody has to understand what the plan entails and has to be given enough time to think about it, gather the input from neighbors and whatnot,” Sandza said.

Sandza said she expects the University to give a full presentation of its plans for the Vern campus at their next meeting Dec. 2, and the ANC will likely consider the proposal over two meetings through January.

Cora said the plan was constructed to “both achieve GW’s goals and [address] the community concerns that arose during the planning process.” The University expects the plan will get a D.C. Zoning Comission hearing sometime around February 2010, Cora said.

Sandza said she trusts that GW officials will do as they promised and seek the contribution of the Vern’s neighbors.

“I hope to see a lot of consideration given to the neighbors who live really very close to the Mount Vernon campus, and their needs,” Sandza said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: (Nov. 12, 2009)

The Hatchet misspelled the name of Susi Cora, director of Planning and Project Management, as Susi Corsa.

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