Administrators give Washington Commons project presentation at SGA meeting
House approved two resolutions, tabled one for next meeting
Finance and Administrative Services and the Office of Residence Life gave a presentation about the proposed Washington Commons project at the Student Government Association's Feb. 28 meeting.
Kathleen Gardner, executive director of student affairs, broke down the proposal. Washington Commons, if approved to be built where Lot 22 sits, would have 179 units with 412 beds.
Gardner said Kewadin Village and Northwest Apartments, to be demolished in Fall 2022 and 2024 accordingly, are outdated and not accessible. The proposed Washington Commons has 20 accessible rooms, and, because of this, she said they need to be leveled regardless.
“No matter what we decide to do about Washington Street Commons, both of those complexes have to come down,” Gardner said.
She referenced facility ratings each community was given indicating they were at the end of their lifecycle.
Gardner listed reasons why Central Michigan University needs the change, even though the project will reduce the number of beds on campus. She mentioned enrollment, students' desire for independent living and better-quality housing – including air conditioning.
Gardner said there were 13 students living in Kewadin Village with children in the Fall 2021 and that number is lower this semester. She said both she and her office worked with students in Kewadin Village to help them find alternative housing.
Gardner explained how the proposed housing complex will be funded through bonds and how the money will be made back.
“If we were to go purchase a house, we would get a mortgage. This is kind of like the university taking out a mortgage to build Washington Commons,” she said. “How that gets paid off is students living in that complex, their room rates pay off the bond.”
She also emphasized the fact that the project, if approved, will not affect room and board rates. However, the rate of living in the Washington Commons itself will be higher than in other residential communities.
Room and board rates were also raised by three percent at the most recent Board of Trustees meeting.
Associate Vice President of Facilities Management, Jonathan Webb, offered insight on the proposed construction area.
He said they surveyed possible locations last year and determined Lot 22 to be ideal due to utilities, location, electrical, steam, condensation, and sewer systems.
“Those things that most people don’t think about, they can really drive the cost of the project pretty high,” Webb said. “This turned out to be an outstanding location from a site planning standpoint also from a utility standpoint.”
Webb discussed another major focus of the proposed project which is parking.
“One of the main focuses that we wanted to make sure (of) is to assess all parking on campus and that has been part of this overall project,” he said.
Webb said there are 950 spaces in Lot 22. If the Washington Commons are built, there will be over 600 spaces available.
Another part of the plan includes a new Lot 75, east of Kewadin Village, that would create more parking spaces. The lot, approved by the Board of Trustees at its Feb. 16 meeting, is expected to be complete in August.
Webb said Lot 75 will be built in time to replace the parking spaces lost to Lot 22, if the Washington Commons project is approved.
He acknowledged concerns about reducing commuter parking options saying that most of the university’s commuter lots are well under-utilized.
“If we look at our enrollment and where our enrollment is headed, we’re going to continue to have available parking spaces. It may not be a lot that you have typically gone to, but there are multiple lots all across campus that have commuter spaces there available.”
Audience questions about proposed Washington Commons
One audience member asked if students with children or spouses will be able to live in the Washington Commons. Gardner said that has not yet been decided, but that may be difficult to organize because they contract by bed.
Another student inquired about how the 600 parking spaces available to the proposed Washington Commons residents would be allocated. Webb said that will be determined after construction if approved.
Several students in the audience asked why the proposed Washington Commons would only be available to upper-class students and how that helps boost enrollment of first- and second-year students.
Gardner said it is marketable and the promise of living there in one or two years – as a new student – will likely entice people to attend CMU.
Other students raised safety concerns about having to cross the often-busy Broomfield Road to go back and forth from Lot 75 to campus, and also doing so at night.
Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services, Nick Long answered with four solutions. He said students should use the crosswalk, that light posts will be put in Lot 75, that campus is filled with security cameras and there are many blue boxes all-around campus if students ever feel unsafe.
One student asked Long how the university will employ students in the proposed Washington Commons market when it is unable to keep current dining halls fully staffed. Long answered that there is no guarantee of anything, but the market will be a grocery-style store, not a residential dining area, so it will require significantly less staffing than a typical cafeteria.
The Office of Student Activities and Involvement is looking for students to be a part of the Homecoming Committee. Available positions include homecoming chair (paid), activities and competition coordinator, parade coordinator, promotions coordinator and rock rally coordinator.
Sunshine Week, sponsored by the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center, will be held from March 13-19. Educational events throughout the week, free and open to the public, offer a look at open government and journalism ethics. (These events are sponsored by Central Michigan Life and other campus organizations.)
The Special Olympics College launched its inclusion campaign. For more informational handouts or to pledge your name, visit the Spread the Word website.
Amnesty International at CMU will host a meeting to discuss the Russia/Ukraine conflict at 6 p.m. on March 3 in Anspach Hall 248.
After the general board meeting, the House discussed old and new resolutions.
· “A Resolution to Pressure the Central Michigan University Office of Residence Life to Change the Night Check-In Policy” was passed by the House and Senate. The resolution will be discussed will Residence Life and other appropriate entities to advocate for the policy to be changed. according to senate leader, Max Ranger.
· “A Resolution to Encourage the Expansion of Hours for On-Campus Symptomatic and Close Contact COVID Testing was approved by the House but failed to pass in the Senate.
· “A Resolution to Recognize Severe Weather Awareness Week and Encourage Steps to Promote the Safety of the Campus Community was tabled until the next meeting by the House and Senate.
· “A Resolution to Recognize the First Week of February as National Gun Violence Survivors Week” was tabled by the Senate.
SGA will meet next on March 14 following Spring Break. Students can attend the meeting in the Bovee University Center Auditorium or watch Central Michigan Life's livestream on our Facebook.