Residents Raise Concerns about the Sewanee Village Plan
Thursday, November 16, 2017
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Nov. 7 Sewanee Village Update meeting, Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor Frank Gladu fielded residents’ questions about hurdles the project posed.
Gladu described the Sewanee Village Plan as an “infill project” meaning a project rededicating space. Phase One of the Village Plan encompasses 45-acres in the downtown Sewanee vicinity. Projects the University hopes to see completed by 2022 include increasing residential housing and the redesign of the Highway 41A intersection.
Plans call for multi-family housing on the recently purchased tract of land on Prince Lane, Gladu said. “The conceptual drawing shows 39 units, six-plexes, eight-plexes, and maybe 12-plexes.”
“I’m in favor of infill. It’s the environmentally and socially right thing to do,” said Sewanee resident Sid Brown. Brown, though, expressed concerns about drainage, pointing to standing water on the grassy site. “This is a low area. More concrete will mean more storm water needing places to go.”
Resident Lucia Dale expressed similar concerns about the cluster of six to eight small cottage- court style homes proposed for a location across the street. “Drainage may kill the cottage court plan,” Dale said.
Dale suggested a nearby site calling for two single-family homes would be a better location for the cottage court.
“The plan may not happen as drawn,” Gladu said. “Input is important.”
Acknowledging drainage issues in the Parson’s Green residential area developed in 2010, Gladu stressed that a “different management structure” was in place now. “We need to do a better job on this.”
Gladu cited upstream storm water and downstream blockage as issues under review in a storm-water management study being conducted by the University.
Storm water is a major concern, Gladu agreed. “There are areas not built on now, and there’s a reason why.”
Dale also took issue with proposed redesign of the Highway 41A intersection, which calls for a narrowing of the highway from Kennerly Road to Kentucky Avenue.
Studies indicate narrowing the highway will slow down traffic, Gladu explained. “The highway will shrink to one lane in each direction.”
“We’re slowing down trucks and routing them through a green space,” Dale complained, noting the plan called for a village green as the focal point of the intersection. “Is that for the enjoyment of the truckers? This doesn’t make sense to me.”
Gladu said the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) was funding and designing the project with money in their safety budget. He hopes to see turn lanes and pedestrian activated crosswalks in TDOT’s design. He expects to receive the design by the end of December.
Turning to plans to relocate the bookstore to downtown between the post office and Tower Community Bank, Gladu said the building would have “a smaller footprint,” predicting a 5,000-7,000 square foot structure compared to the 10,000 square foot building housing the present bookstore. That space was larger than necessary, Gladu noted, pointing to changes in the way students acquired their textbooks.
“The architect selection process is underway. We hope to have a bookstore design by mid-2018,” Gladu said. He anticipated Barnes and Noble would “likely continue to operate the bookstore to start with,” but said the contract allowed for modifications to the arrangement.
Asked about hurdles to the grocery store proposed for the lot across from the present Sewanee Market, Gladu listed two needs: one, finding an operator, and two, determining what conditions would make the apartments proposed for the upper two levels of the building rentable.
In response to concerns the Sewanee Market would be torn down before a new grocery store was built, Gladu said, “We’re trying not to have any interruptions in service.”
Gladu acknowledged the need for a new Village Plan map more accurately reflecting proposed changes and what would remain the same.
He intends to hold Sewanee Village Update meetings on the first Tuesday of each month.
“What I get out of it is your questions and comments,” Gladu said. “I want to know what your concerns are.”
For more information go to sewanee.edu/village