An appeal to Radnor residents

Editorial Board

It’s probably safe to say that most of the student body has not read the 160-plus-page Campus Master Plan featured on the University homepage. It’s also likely that they aren’t familiar with the various options within each plan and what each of them entails. And lastly, it’s safe to assume that most of the student body doesn’t know who is really going to make the major decisions regarding the Campus Master Plan. It won’t be Father Peter or Tom Mogan or any school administrator who decides the fate of this University; it will be the surrounding residents and Township officials who vote yay or nay to our school’s future and development.

Villanova is located in the heart of Radnor Township, one of the oldest municipalities in Pennsylvania. The relationship between its residents and the University has been under some stress in recent months because of complaints about the building of the new law school, which began in November after a month’s delay. The Radnor Township Zoning Board allowed the University to exceed building variance codes despite the formal complains brought forth by a group of nearby residents. This same group appealed in Delaware County after the decision was made by Radnor, but the ruling was upheld.

This relationship is not likely to get better once the residents realize our grandiose plans for the restructuring of campus and the surrounding area. The Campus Master Plan includes preparations to change the pedestrian experience around campus, which means widening sidewalks, expanding parking lots and adding parking garages, which will most likely create more traffic and strain on local roads. In addition, it includes plans to add retail shops to the south side of Lancaster Avenue, which will bring outside traffic into an already-congested area.

No doubt these plans are going to inconvenience a lot of people. Both the University community and local residents will be affected by the changes especially while they are under construction. Whether residents like it or not, Villanova is changing – and for the better. Colleges cannot remain stagnant; they must expand and develop in order to compete with other universities and contribute to the academic world and society. However, the plan chosen should not only benefit Villanova but also the surrounding community. As John Cacciola, project coordinator for the Campus Master Plan said, “We’re not going to make those decisions in a vacuum and then assume that we’re OK to proceed with whatever we want. We’re going to make those decisions in cooperation and in collaboration with the Township because we want to make this a win-win for the community as well.”

So hopefully, with the cooperation of the Township and its residents, when the current students and members of the University community come back for homecoming in 15 or 20 years, they will see a very different Villanova.