By Kimberly Ilkowski
With Campus Town nearing completion and residents and shops set to move in five months from now, it’s hard for current students to remember a time before the construction began. Almost five years ago to the day, the March 3, 2010 edition of The Signal discussed the debate between the campus and Ewing Township community members alike about building Campus Town when the plans were first created. Written by copy editor Arti Patel, the story is an interesting look back on the developmental stages of a project over which the campus is now abuzz with excitement.
Ewing Township residents had the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns about the Campus Town project the College is in the process of developing at a community forum held by the Township and College Together (TACT) Committee. The five-person panel consisting of Curt Heuring, the College’s vice president for facilities management, construction and campus safety, Eric R. Ballou, engineering consultant from Bridsall Services Group and David P. Manfredi, architect from the firm Elkus Manfredi. Also on the panel were Cubie H. Dawson Jr. and Hilary Thomas from the consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle.
The panel presented a detailed account of the College’s feasibility study previously shown to students and faculty.
“We are trying to create a sense of place for this college in this community,” Manfredi said. “We want to create buildings that connect the campus to the town.”
Of the approximately 37,000 Ewing Township residents, less than 30 citizens came to the meeting.
Of those who were present, members of Trinity United Methodist Church, where the community forum was held, expressed a distinct hostile vibe projected forth by a small minority of disgruntled and irritated Ewing residents.
“We got a lot of feedback,” TACT student member Tom Little, a junior political science major, said. “I think we will have success in the long term.”
Little acknowledged the unreceptive attitudes of some residents in attendance, but said this was due to fiscal concerns.
“Everyone’s worried about money,” he said.
“I think it went wonderfully,” Heuring said. “(Talking to the residents) helps us design and respond better to people’s needs.
A major topic brought up by several residents included the effects of new retail stores on existing businesses.
“The plan is not to be disrespectful to any existing businesses,” Dawson said. “The idea is not to have these stores separate from the community. It is important that we knit those together.”
“The excitement about retail here is that you can walk to it,” Thomas clarified in an effort to show why this development project is different than strip malls and existing retail areas already in Ewing Township.
“I know the College’s idea is to create a setting that can bring the College’s community together with the town to bring a harmonious relationship,” Ewing Township City Council Vice President Les Summiel said. “It’s really the will of the people to say whether or not the idea is palatable to the community.”