New Hope Lodge site addresses COE's environmental concerns

The University and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have reached an agreement on a revised site for the Hope Lodge, an ACS project to be built on land provided by Emory at the University Apartments.

"The Committee on the Environment, the University and the American Cancer Society have approved the revised site, and design is going forward," said Executive Vice President John Temple.

The University Senate Committee on the Environment (COE) raised concerns in January about the project's original site plan, which COE felt would put the building too close to the back of Lullwater and lead to excessive tree loss in a wooded ravine. COE voted to recommend that the project be moved to a new site, up and out of the ravine and further from the edge of Lullwater. The full Senate concurred.

Over the past several months, Emory and the ACS have been working toward an agreement for a revised Hope Lodge site. The 35,000-square-foot facility will be built on Emory land, but will be owned and operated by ACS to provide free lodging for up to 30 out-of-town cancer patients who don't need hospitalization, but must remain in Atlanta for cancer treatment for periods of three days to six months. The average stay would be about three weeks. Space also will be available for patients' family members.

COE Chair Bill Buzbee said the committee not only approved the new site for the 35,000-square-foot structure, but also indicated its future willingness to approve a 10,000-square-foot addition, provided that ACS conducts "ecologically sound construction and engineering" on the first phase.

Earle Whittington, project manager in Campus Planning and Construction who assisted the University and ACS in reaching a new site agreement, said the new site is "substantially different" from the original in terms of the impact on trees and drainage in the area. "Under the old plan," Whittington said, "the building was entirely in a wooded ravine area. Now the building will be up and out of the ravine. Building construction will occur on the fringe of the ravine, and that will take out some trees, maybe five or so."

COE's concerns about the original site included Hope Lodge's visual impact on the walking trails near the back of Lullwater. Whittington said the new site is 100-150 feet further from the Lullwater border than the original site. Whittington said that while Hope Lodge will likely be visible from Lullwater, particularly in winter, the building will not "loom" over that portion of Lullwater, as COE members had originally feared.

Although some ACS staff and volunteers have been somewhat frustrated by the unexpectedly lengthy process of getting a site approved, they couldn't be more pleased that an Emory site has been settled on and that the project is moving forward.

"All things considered, we are very pleased with the way things have turned out," said Kirby Thompson, an ACS volunteer who chaired the Building and Construction Subcommittee of the Hope Lodge Steering Committee. "The new site is not the one we initially envisioned, but it will be a very functional site. It's a wonderful location for cancer patients and residents of the Mason Transplant House to have lodging as they go through an interim period of treatment."

Thompson said ACS hopes to break ground on Hope Lodge in late fall and have the project completed within 10 to 12 months.

--Dan Treadaway

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