Emory Report

April 5, 1999

 Volume 51, No. 26

A letter from Bill Chace to the Emory community

For the past few months, the entire Emory community has engaged in a healthy debate on how we can grow and develop while preserving--and in many cases restoring--the green spaces that contribute so much to our intellectual and social lives.

Lullwater, of course, is our most precious green space. For this reason, as president I must find a balance between conserving a hallowed area while at the same time doing something that will benefit the community as a whole.

I have listened very carefully as representatives of our community--comprising 11,000 students and 15,000 faculty and staff members--have discussed in various ways the issue of building a shuttle road along the edge of Lullwater. Representatives from groups such as the University Senate Committee on the Environment (COE) and the Emory chapter of the Student Environmental Action Coalition (ECO-SEAC) have provided valuable information that has enabled administrators and campus planners to take a closer and more critical look at our proposals.

As a result of this process, I am convinced that a shuttle road needs to be built in order to connect the main campus to University Apartments, to enable those who live there and who will park in the new parking structure to commute easily to the main campus, and to achieve our goal of removing cars from the campus core. The route will be restricted to alternatively fueled shuttles and will provide a pleasant and quick passage for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Let us remember that Lullwater is not protected by a globe--it is being polluted by car exhaust every single day. We must get cars stopped and off the roads. We must deal with the reality of our surroundings, all of them, and not seek to protect one wonderful area at the expense of the area where we spend most of our time as students, members of the faculty and members of the staff.

But as one of its three human (and very fortunate) inhabitants, I also am convinced that Lullwater needs to be protected. I have heard your concerns loud and clear. One of them is this: Will the shuttle route just be the beginning of our encroachment on Lullwater? To respond to this justifiable fear, here's what I propose we do:

  • Survey Lullwater to establish its boundaries: One thing we've learned during the recent discussion about the shuttle route is that Lullwater's boundaries are not clearly defined. Therefore I've asked the campus planners to get together with COE members as soon as possible to walk the property so as to establish clear boundary lines that will be documented in a survey, and to explore opportunities to expand Lullwater's current confines.
  • Act to preserve forever the integrity of Lullwater: Once Lullwater's boundaries have been clearly defined, I will take the survey to the Board of Trustees with the request that they designate Lullwater a protected area pursuant to the Board's recent declaration that "near-pristine forest landsmay be considered irreplaceable and should be disturbed only when their loss may be outweighed by other environmental good or mitigated by exchange of other properties. Mature hardwood forestsshould not be disturbed without an environmental assessment of the impact of their development."
  • Review Lullwater access to pedestrians and bicyclists; increase reforestation: We will continue to work to make Lullwater even more attractive and useable for pedestrians and bicyclists. We've received many suggestions and requests for improved paths and running trails. I've asked campus planners to work with the COE and representatives from other groups to ensure that any such enhancements would be environmentally feasible. We also will explore opportunities to maintain the ecological balance that Lullwater currently enjoys. We hope to reforest several barren meadows in Lullwater, and trees and shrubs will, of course, be planted along the shuttle road.

The shuttle route project is one of the first major steps in implementing our Campus Master Plan. We will be challenged as a community at every stage of the process as we continue to grapple with growth and development issues. As concerned as I am about the future of Lullwater, I am even more concerned about Emory in its entirety. It is in danger, real ecological and cultural danger. It is imperiled by excessive traffic, pollution from internal combustion engines and the despoliation caused by asphalt and concrete. One of the main principles of the Campus Master Plan is to create a walking campus. We must never lose sight of that goal.

Many productive issues have come out of our discussions about the shuttle route and Lullwater. As a community, we've all become more aware of our alternative transportation programs, our efforts to bring MARTA and Georgia rail service to Emory, our collaborative efforts with other institutions along the Clifton Corridor to manage our traffic congestion/pollution issues. New relationships and coalitions have been formed within the Emory community. Students, faculty and staff are working on these difficult issues together, and they have brought new ideas and energy to the task of developing solutions to tough problems that do not lend themselves to simple answers.

I thank the COE and ECO-SEAC members for stretching our imaginations regarding environmental responsibility. I thank the campus planners for their innovative, environmentally sensitive and responsive approach to shepherding the planning and implementation process.

As COE Chairman Bill Size said at our public forum on Lullwater and the shuttle road last month: "We have to be on the same side in this issue, or we'll all lose." I couldn't agree more. That is why I believe that the entire Emory community can benefit from continuing our open and frank discussion about how to make the campus a better learning and living environment for everyone.

--President Bill Chace

University policy governing forest on Emory's Druid Hills campus

Recognizing the scientific, educational and aesthetic value of sylvan habitats, Emory University espouses a goal of no net loss of wooded acreage and will take appropriate measures to preserve for future generations the forests on Emory property. At the same time, the University recognizes that creating a sustainable human and natural environment at Emory requires balancing the need for new construction and the need for preservation. In striving to harmonize these sometimes competing goods, the University will follow the guidelines enumerated here.

1. The University will take all practical measures to preserve near-pristine forest lands delineated in the report of W. H. Murdy and M. E. B. Carter ("A Report on the Status of Forested Land of Emory University," July 1986). These properties may be considered irreplaceable and should be disturbed only when their loss may be outweighed by other environmental goods or mitigated by exchange of other properties.

2. Mature hardwood forests identified in the Murdy-Carter report should not be disturbed without an environmental assessment of the impact of their development.

3. Second-growth forests suitable for construction sites should be developed only after appropriate environmental precautions have been taken. These precautions include avoiding wetlands and habitats for rare species, maintaining buffer zones, and preventing sediment runoff during construction.

4. Whenever possible, Emory will maintain connections between existing wooded parcels of land in order to promote natural corridors for wildlife habitat.

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