October 1, 2016

Letter to the Editor: Webster U/Eden lawsuit is not the only path

Contributed by Dave Buck, Webster Groves Resident

On Aug. 20, 2013, City Council of Webster Groves voted 4-3 against Bill #8804, denying Webster University approval to cross Lockwood Avenue, occupy 5.3 acres of Eden property, use the Luhr Building and Wehrli Center, and tear down the White House for green space.

On Sept. 18, 2013, Webster University/Eden filed a joint lawsuit against the City of Webster Groves, making the case that the City Council’s vote should be reversed. At 8:30 am, on Feb. 21, a hearing of the lawsuit will be held in Judge Mark Seigel’s courtroom in the St. Louis County Courts Building.

To me, resolving this four-year controversy is the most important issue facing our community. After many meetings and conversations, including Webster University and Eden’s Board of Trustees members, here’s what I believe to be true:

– Webster University,  Eden Theological Seminary and the City of Webster Groves are all good people.

– They all want a collaborative, win-win solution to this controversy, which they have achieved every year in the arts with events such as Art & Air and on numerous university projects prior to December, 2009, such as Emerson Library, dormitories and multi-level parking garage.

– They all share blame for breaking the trust.

– They all view the lawsuit as a last resort.

– Deep down, they all do not want the lawsuit to happen.

With all this agreement, why isn’t a collaborative win-win solution in the works? Maybe it’s because the university, Eden and the city took the easy path by giving up on each other and our community with a lawsuit that divides us, instead of uniting us.

Do they really want a judge making this important decision for them, especially when this lawsuit can only end in a win-lose outcome?

But there is another path. The university, Eden and the city have the power and a window of opportunity to stop the lawsuit before Feb. 21. If they can apologize and forgive each other, show some courage and jointly say, “Our community deserves better from us,” they can begin repairing the broken trust by doing the hard work to create a lasting collaborative win-win solution that will change our community for the better.

What path would you take?

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