December 5, 2020

The Inevitable: Webster’s expansion across Lockwood Avenue

By the Journal   

Webster University’s expansion across Lockwood may come to fruition on Aug. 21 if the Webster Groves City Council decides to approve Eden Seminary’s 2012 master plan which is outlined in Webster Groves Ordinance 8753. This includes the possible sale or lease of 7.5 acres of green space to Webster University.
The green space at the corner of Bompart and Lockwood has gotten Webster Groves residents strongly urging the city to not pass the ordinance because they fear an expansion of the university will bring down their property values. Various residents have voiced their concerns at three public hearings on this topic. At each meeting, The Journal has heard residents’ testimonies, which (during almost every testimony) the speaker talks longer than the allotted time. We acknowledge the dedication Webster Groves residents have for their community and we appreciate the residents’ involvement in this issue. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in.
With that, we believe Webster University has the right to cross Lockwood. And, we are sure it will. Webster University’s 2012 master plan anticipates the university will serve 5,000 students in the next 10 to 15 years. Undoubtedly, Webster University will need more space.
This idea factors into the Webster Groves residents’ concerns. How can the university accommodate almost double its current undergraduate population? A seven-and-a-half-acre space could be the answer for something big. Really big. But, this is an assumption. It’s a logical assumption, though, and it’s an idea that the vocal Webster Groves residents, especially residents who live near Eden, fear.
This factor can be described as an “unknown.” The vocal residents fear the university will build something unsightly — another large building or even worse, a parking lot. Webster University has not revealed what could go there and The Journal wonders if the university’s administrators are certain what exactly they would want to build there.
During the three city council meetings, Webster Groves residents have stated if a structure is built on the green space, the property value of those living near it could, or rather, will drop.
It is easy for us students to be in favor of progression of our community and the advancement of education without giving consideration to the residents and their concerns. An interview with Eden’s president, David Greenhaw, put the issue in perspective. In an interview with The Journal, Greenhaw said in an adult’s life, the most valuable and greatest object he or she will own is a home, and it is understandable that the residents are trying to protect their homes.
This makes us sympathetic, in a sense, toward the residents, and makes us more in favor of a compromise that could benefit the three communities — Webster Groves, Webster University and Eden Seminary. A win-win-win situation. After attending the three public hearings and speaking with Webster University’s attorney, Brad Goss, and Eden’s attorney, Gary Feder, The Journal understands there’s a desire for compromise from the parties.

Despite the attempts of residents to keep Webster University in its place, The Journal feels the city council will have its hands tied and accept Eden’s master plan. Those outspoken residents, of course, will not be happy, and as one pointed out at the June 5 public hearing, all hell could break loose. However, we hope the residents will be understanding of Webster’s and Eden’s educational goals and come to terms with this inevitable change.

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