December 6, 2019

Guest Commentary: A new community-owned Webster Groves “creative community center”

By Dave Buck

Dave Buck is a resident of Webster Groves.

To Webster Groves City Council, all community resident taxpayers, Eden Seminary President Greenhaw, and Webster University President Stroble, administration, staff, deans, faculty and, most importantly, students,

 

Idea Background:

—As I have said and written many times, I am in support of both the respective Webster University and Eden Seminary master plans as long as: 1) the Eden green space is unchanged and preserved for our community to use, and 2) that Webster University does not expand north across Lockwood Avenue to occupy 5.25 acres of prime Eden property that includes the Luhr Library and Wehrli Center, something our taxpayer residents have vehemently and consistently opposed since such expansion was first announced over three years ago, in December 2009.

—Webster University is currently viewing this space as a “secondary administrative site”, with an IT Center going into Luhr and the Wehrli Center becoming an Alumni Affairs Center.  But Webster University has demonstrated a proven ability to move buildings and plans from Eden property into its main campus, south of Lockwood: 1) after 34 years in the Luhr Library, Webster University moved its joint library with Eden into the Emerson Library; 2) Webster University moved its plan for a new science center, originally in Luhr, to a new Interdisciplinary Science Building in the new East Quad; thus, 3) given that its own master plan (page 36 of the Webster University Master Plan) states that 15 acres are available for development in its main campus, Webster University judgmentally should have no problem moving its planned IT Center and Alumni Affairs Center south of Lockwood as well.

—Webster Groves received the 2013 Missouri Arts Award for Creative Community.

—The Green Bay Packers are unique among all NFL teams as they do not have one owner (like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys) or small owner group, but have been owned by the Green Bay community residents and fans since August 1923.

 

Idea:

— Create and transform the Luhr Library and surrounding grounds into the Webster Groves Creative Community Center.  The center would be open to and used by the community and cover all art and performing art forms in galleries, studios, classes, practice rooms, shows and performances, etc. Just like the Webster Groves Rec Plex, various affordable fees would be charged to partake in its services.

— Unique to Webster Groves, this new community asset would be owned by its community resident shareholders.

 

Rationale:

— It is totally consistent with and continues to build on the great, positive momentum and reputation Webster Groves has gained as a creative community.  Plus, it is adjacent to the Eden green space, the home of the great annual Art & Air outdoor art fair. Importantly, nothing like this exists in Webster Groves today.

— Versus an administrative IT Center and Alumni Affairs Center, the Creative Community Center is a fitting, beautiful and community-needed idea for this prime and beautiful piece of Eden property and setting that fronts highly traveled Lockwood Avenue.

—Judgmentally, the nature and ownership uniqueness of this idea will rally the community to support and own a stake in this next generation, community art asset and destination, with every stakeholder permanently and artistically displayed in or around the center.

— Everyone wins: Webster University gets all of its master plan all south of Lockwood; Eden Seminary sells an unneeded asset and generates money for its capital fund and endowment; and the community of Webster Groves fills a need as it furthers its strong and growing awareness, practice and appreciation of all forms of art in this new community showcase.

Now, close your eyes.  Do you see what I see?

 

Thanks for your consideration.

Dave Buck, Webster Groves, 952-0910

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