November 19, 2019

Last Chance for Webster University, City to Collaborate

Dave Buck

Written and submitted by: Dave Buck, Webster Groves Resident 

At their upcoming meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 20, the Webster Groves City Council should easily pass Ordinance #8804, which will approve Webster University’s proposed uses for three buildings – Luhr, Wehrli Center and White House – that it has owned since 2010, and sit on 5.26 acres of Eden Seminary property.

For 3 1/2 years, all attempts at a collaborative initiative between the university and the community have failed.  This offers one last chance to end this divisive controversy on a positive, constructive note.

Background

  • While the Webster University Comprehensive Master Plan from September 2012 has not been accepted or approved by the city council, it is the guiding source for this ordinance.
  • Page 53 of this master plan clearly states that, “The university is also interested in engaging with the Webster Groves community to develop university/city collaborative initiatives that might be located in the Luhr building.”
  • Currently, Webster University’s proposed use of the Luhr building, first, serves only university interests, secondly, significantly under utilizes the building’s total available space and lastly, is often very periodic or occasional in nature.

Last Chance Collaboration

Before the city council votes on the ordinance, will Webster University promise and commit to meet with city council and staff soon to create a collaborative initiative for the unused space in the Luhr building?  Here’s three possible ideas that leverage key Webster University’s strengths: One, a creative community arts center, offering classes and galleries. Two, a community chess club, offering national championship instruction, and three, a community continuing education program covering timely, important topics of the day.

May Webster University and the Webster Groves City Council please consider such collaborations for the good of our community and to help restore the historic trust between Webster University and our City?

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