Minutes of the Science Center Subcommittee Meeting

17 May 2001

Present: Al Bloom, Betsy Bolton, Lisa Meeden, Larry Schall, Ken Sharpe

Ken and Betsy proposed some common goals and next steps for discussion; Betsy volunteered to keep minutes of the meeting.

Ken expressed appreciation for the work put in by the Science Center Team and for the process model followed in most aspects of both Trotter and Science Center projects. Al in turn said he felt neighborhood intervention on the parking issue had led to a better project, and said he hoped the subcommittees work would lead to still more improvements.

Ken and Betsy proposed the following goals:

  1. To follow a process that is transparent, neutral, and fair, and is accepted by all parties as transparent, neutral, and fair.
  2. To minimize the inconvenience to faculty and staff parking resulting from the construction project.
  3. To maximize the green space remaining on campus, and to minimize the negative environmental effects of our chosen solution.
  4. To minimize the cost of achieving these goals.

Larry asked that two additional goals be added, one addressing the schedule of the project, and the other addressing the project's interrelations with other building projects, such as the new dorm and possibly the hotel. Larry also suggested adding a phrase like "the needs and the schedule of the science project be respected". Lisa also emphasized the importance of grasping the interrelated nature of the Science Center project. (These additional goals need to be articulated a little more clearly, perhaps in our next meeting.)

At Betsy's request, Larry outlined the initial time schedule of the project:

Ken suggested the need for a "second opinion" from a parking or transportation consultant. Al and Larry expressed concerns about the scale of problem-solving the consultant might engage in, as well as the time and cost of such a consultation. After some discussion, it was decided that we would consult internally (among ourselves, with Mara and perhaps Wlad or James), and then decide if we wanted to take any remaining questions to an outside consultant. Larry suggested that to address our information needs, we would have to meet with the contractor for a few hours. Larry also stated that the two-week time period estimated for internal consultation would not jeopardize the possible implementation of new ideas.

Al stressed the importance of respecting both parties and both sides of the issue. He also stated that he believed the specific concerns of the residents regarding the impact of this lot on their rental homes had been satisfactorily been addressed by the committee and that the compromise on the table was a fair one. Ken and Betsy responded that for the community the satisfactory resolution of this problem required a transparent, fair, participatory process, which is the process we hope to undertake. Lisa emphasized the objectivity, good intentions, and collaborative aspects of the Science Center process.

Agreeing with the importance of following a respectful, productive process, Ken also raised the issue of whether the lot would indeed be temporary. Al responded in these terms: "The current intent is that the parking lot is temporary and that it will be removed at the completion of the Parrish project. However, it is impossible to predict what decision the College might make at some future time about designation of the land involved. At the point of any such decision-which will likely be far in the future and under a subsequent president-the decision would need to be made by an appropriate College process." Ken pointed out that because the neighborhood community does not believe such a process was followed in the past, community members feel some concern when they hear that "good process" will be followed in the future. "We hope, however, that the kind of process we are about to engage in can begin to turn this mistrust around, and provide a model for community participation in the future." Larry also said he couldn't guarantee the future of the area, given the question of "the biology building" (a question discussed at length in Science Center committee meetings), but suggested that any building project on that site would happen many years down the road.

Ken raised the issues of noise abatement and a means for resolving ongoing neighborhood concerns with construction, and asked to arrange another meeting on these issues. Al suggested instead that those issues be handled by this subcommittee.

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Send message to the chair of the Science Project User's Group , Rachel Merz (rmerz1@swarthmore.edu)

last updated 6/03/01