July 26, 1999
Volume 51, No. 36
Summer of planning and negotiation with neighbors continues for Emory West campus
As Emory continues to smooth the path with its neighbors for future development of Emory West, the University's plans for installing temporary facilities on the property have been slightly delayed.
Al Herzog, project manager for the modular units that will temporarily house the Emory-Georgia Tech Biotechnology Center, said the facilities may not be installed until November instead of September, as originally planned. The delay was caused by several factors, Herzog explained, not the least of which is the extra time required to assemble facilities that will look more like small buildings than trailers, with their pitched roofs and Hardipanel siding. The units will cost a total of $1.6 million, all of which is covered by a grant from the Georgia Research Alliance, and they can be moved and reused by Georgia Tech once Emory builds permanent facilities for the biotech center.
That will not be for another two to three years at least, Campus Planning Director Jen Fabrick told a group of neighborhood residents July 13 in the Campus Master Planning Studio. More than 50 citizens attended the meeting arranged by Betty Willis, director of community affairs, part of an ongoing effort to involve groups like the Druid Hills Civic Association (DHCA) in the Emory West planning process.
Fabrick and Herzog spoke on the Emory West master plan and short- and long-term construction plans. Dennis Liotta, vice president for research, explained the biotech center, and Michael Gladle, interim associate director of environmental health and safety, talked about safety concerns related to the bioengineering research that will take place at Emory West.
The meeting was precipitated in part by a letter from the DHCA expressing concern over Emory filing a height variance request with DeKalb County. "The element of trust, which has permeated these community meetings, has been severely damaged," wrote DHCA president Michael Terry. The letter was accompanied by a 25-point questionnaire addressing University plans for the property.
"We were a little surprised by the tone of that letter," said Willis, who added that the height variance request was a mistake and has been withdrawn. The request was made hurriedly and in response to a county zoning change that could affect the Emory West master plan. However, Willis said, the University has never altered its construction plans from those that were reviewed by DHCA and deemed not to be a problem for neighbors.
The July 13 meeting alleviated many of DHCA's concerns, Willis said, and a written, detailed response to the association's questionnaire will be distributed in the next few weeks. Much of the debate at the meeting centered around increased traffic on and around Briarcliff Road. Residents asked that a traffic study be completed before Emory finalizes its construction plans; Fabrick said she fully intends to conduct such a study once the Emory West steering committee determines how the property will be used.
Provost Rebecca Chopp, who chairs the steering committee, said she hopes to issue a report to President Bill Chace in the fall. "The committee has met a number of times and presented some of its initial ideas to various councils, such as the Council of Deans, and committees across the University," Chopp said. "We are spending our summer working in subcommittees to outline a possible form of governance, study comparative data on research parks across the country and put forward initial ideas about some 'model' programs that might be located at Emory West."
The steering committee will determine how to use half of the 800,000 square feet of research space planned for Emory West. The other half is committed to the biotech center. Chopp said the committee is considering how to use the center's "incubator" model for programs in the humanities, social sciences and professional schools.