War Is Over: Georgetown’s Town-Gown Relationship About to Be Reset

Ron Lewis, chair of ANC2E, Mayor Vincent Gray and John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University. | Robert Devaney

After months of contentious discussions, private and public meetings and news coverage on Georgetown University’s 2010-2020 campus plan, the town-gown relationship of the oldest neighborhood of Washington, D.C., with the oldest Catholic institution of higher learning in America appears to have become collegial.

The war is over. Peace has been declared. Discussions will continue.

“This is an extraordinary event in the life of our community, and it’s very promising. We have found a way — the community and the university, together — that offers a new cooperative spirit and real results on issues that have divided us for years.”

So said Ron Lewis, chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, at a sunlit media announcement at the intersection of 36th and P Streets, N.W., in front of commissioner Jeff Jones’s house, next to the university’s main campus June 6.

Assembled at the peace-treaty-like setting were Mayor Vincent Gray, Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, Georgetown University President John DeGioia, the Office of Planning’s Jennifer Steingasser, peacemaker Don Edwards and other advisory neighborhood commissioners and university officials as well as Georgetown, Burleith and Foxhall neighborhood leaders.

Praise rang all around between the players in this conflict resolution. Said Gray: “What they have done is developed a prototype and set a precedent for how these issues are to be dealt with in the future.” Evans called the mayor “a miracle worker.” DeGioia called the agreement “exciting” and noted that it “reset the relationship” between the neighborhood and the university. “Without the mayor,” DeGioia continued, “this moment would not be possible.”

Lewis concluded the gathering, saying that details would be issued the next day. (Some reporters wanted them during the event.)

And here they are, according to ANC2E, issued June 7:

Key elements of the revised plan –

• A new collegial partnership of senior GU leadership and community representatives – the Georgetown Community Partnership – to work toward making the Campus Plan a success and to work together on planning for the future

• A Campus Plan for a seven-year term, beginning January 1, 2011, and ending December 31, 2017

• 450 more undergraduates housed on campus at the Leavey Center and other on campus locations by Fall 2015, including 65 moved from the “Magis Row” townhouses on 36th Street NW and housed on campus by Fall 2013 so that the “Magis Row” townhouses can transition to faculty and staff housing or daytime administrative offices

• Undergraduate enrollment to remain at a maximum of 6,675 and total enrollment at the main campus over the Campus Plan period to be a maximum of 14,106 students; and a new, more accurate method for measuring enrollment semester-by-semester

• New emphasis on a living and learning campus that centralizes student social life on campus

• Clear standards for appropriate off-campus behavior and a results-based system for maintaining the peaceful, quiet atmosphere of our residential neighborhoods

• Significantly improved measures for relieving parking and traffic congestion from GU traffic

• A new commitment to explore providing university-sponsored graduate student housing outside the Georgetown, Burleith and Foxhall communities.

• Acknowledgement of long-term goals of the community and GU for the future, including a new satellite campus of up to 100 acres located elsewhere; at least 90 percent of undergraduates living on campus by Fall 2025 (an additional 244 beds); cooperating in developing and implementing a 20-year campus plan following on the success of the 2011-2017 plan; and the mutual goal of “a collegial and harmonious relationship between the University and the community to address future plans and common issues in an effective, creative and lasting way”

Further details of the proposed campus plan are available on the ANC 2E website, anc2e.com.

[See Georgetown University’s one sheet on the strategic plan in the photo scroll beneath the story. Click on each picture icon to enlarge image.]

ANC 2E will hold a special public meeting to consider the proposed revised GU Campus Plan on Thursday, June 14, 6:30 p.m., at Georgetown Visitation Prep, 35th Street NW at Volta Place NW.

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