​Sewanee Village Quality of Life Priorities

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“What are the important things to consider in setting guidelines for how things look and feel in the Village?” asked Frank Gladu inviting residents’ input on quality of life consideration at the Feb. 5 Sewanee Village update meeting. Residents’ priority concerns included lighting, both too much and not enough, promoting foot and bike travel, and parking.
Sid Brown championed “dark sky lighting” like that in the area of the observatory which “protects the light from going up into the sky so we can see the stars. There’s already too much light in my neighborhood.”
Others like Sandra Johnson pointed to inadequately lit walkways. “My granddaughter said it was scary at night going from the dorm through alleyways to some buildings.” Johnson recommended increasing “indirect lighting” like that she’d encountered on other campuses that lit the walkway but not the sky.
Discussing how to encourage people to walk rather than drive, Stephen Burnett said, “A big part of walkability is destination, somewhere to walk to.”
“One of the principles of the Village Plan is to create walkability,” Gladu said, “walkability defined as a five-minute or quarter mile walk.” He suggested remote parking might have the goal of conforming to this criterion.
Brown stressed “the importance of making the trip from the remote parking pretty so you want to park there and walk.”
Brown also suggested “promoting exercising and health by encouraging self-awareness of how far you walked, for example, from here to here is a quarter mile.”
While advocating walking, Greg Maynard drew attention to the danger to walkers at pedestrian crosswalks, especially at night for walkers dressed in dark clothing.
“I almost hit someone,” concurred Lynn Stubblefied.
Brown proposed pedestrian activated motion detectors to alert motorists.
Stubblefield expressed concern about lack of parking, citing the example of the pilates studio slated for construction on University Avenue. “The Lease Committee approved the design without parking,” Stubblefield said.
“There are county parking requirements and the owner of the studio will have to conform to those requirements, just like the new bookstore will need to conform,” Gladu said. He went on to point out, “There will be parking opportunities for a fairly long time in areas of the Village that may be developed in the future.”
Greg Maynard noted that adding a bike lane in the downtown area would result in additional loss of parking.
“Why not put the bike lane on Alabama Avenue,” Stubblefield suggested. “Cyclists could enter University Avenue from Sartain Road and other adjoining streets.”
Gladu noted that, like parking, bike lanes would need to be adhered to county regulations since most of the streets in Sewanee were county roads.
Residents also recommended shaded areas and comfortable places to sit.
Offering an additional suggestion to making downtown a welcoming place, Brown said. “I hope the speed limits are lowered and enforced, especially in residential areas. Research shows you’re more likely to know your neighbor where speed limits are lower.”
The next Village update meeting is March 5. Gladu hopes to have results from the storm water study.