Here are several letters to the editor Webster Groves Patch received as a result of a blog on Webster Today and a full-page ad in the Webster Kirkwood Times urging neighbors to write the city council asking them to vote no on Bill 8753.
1. I believe Webster University is a valued and contributing member of the Webster Groves community and has been for almost 100 years. The University brings prestige to the community by being a thriving and highly regarded institution, as well as providing us with consistently outstanding cultural and educational offerings.
Webster Groves Patch received the following four letters to the editor as a result of a As with all organizations, the University must evolve to stay relevant to the changing world. This has meant modernization of their infrastructure, as well as to their curriculum offerings to their students. This has involved greater collaboration with their long-standing educational partner, Eden Theological Seminary.
Throughout its history, Webster University has been very conscientious about balancing its character and tradition with the needs of future. We have a treasure in our midst, one that brings $118.8 million of revenue into the city of Webster Groves annually, according to a 2010 Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA) economic impact study.
It also brings access to entertainment, activities for our children and families and most importantly, access to higher education. Please giveWebster University the support it deserves and vote “no” on Bill 8753.
2. Webster University’s full page ad in the last edition of the “Webster Kirkwood Times” has prompted me to share a few thoughts.
It was Eden Seminary, not Webster University, that submitted a 2012 Master Plan to the City of Webster Groves . What, then, prompted Webster University to begin its campaign for support? Is it because Webster University has designs on the Eden property and fears restriction for future development?
Bill #8753 was finalized after numerous public hearings and is a great compromise for everyone. The Bill allows Eden to move forward with its capital improvements phase and lease space to others with some restrictions without turning the campus into a corporate office park. It denied the phase that would allow Eden to sell or lease the land along Bompart for further development at this time. Perhaps this is what concerns Webster University if its plan is to develop that green space that has been a part of this community for over a century.
Eden and Webster University are assets to the community but they are by no means “the community.” We are not a college town. We're a town in which a college resides. The same is true of Eden Seminary.
Residents must adhere to processes outlined by the City to put on additions, erect fences, lease rooms, etc. Why should Eden and Webster University not be subject to regulations as well? It makes sense and is fair to everyone.
A community like Webster Groves does not just happen. It looks and feels as it does because of the regulations that are imposed for the good of all. City Council has seen the wisdom of the need for such regulations in reviewing Eden's application. I applaud them for their fairness in expecting all citizens, including Eden and Webster University, to abide by the rules.
If you agree that everyone should be held to a process and regulations, please advise City Council of your support in their ongoing protection of the character of our community. Final approval of the Bill is scheduled for Tuesday night. You can send an email to the city clerk: Nakazonok@webstergroves.org.
3. I believe restrictions in bill 8753, pending approval in the September 4th Webster Groves City Council Meeting will damage Eden Seminary’s and Webster University’s ability to grow or survive into the future. Both of these great institutions have been providing the Webster Groves community economic and cultural benefits for a very long time. Their existence was a major reason I choose to live close when I moved to the St Louis 17 years ago. I liked the fact that I was moving to a "college town" with old established institutions. It was a comfortable, balanced feeling I could not get from other newer suburban developments.
I would like to remind the City Government of their own motto: "Webster Groves, A great place to Live, Work and Play." To live in this great community, we also need to make a living, and need places for recreation. A great town provides all three - good homes, thriving businesses, and access to recreation and the arts. If this bill is enacted it may destabilize this delicate balance. It will short-change our institutions and businesses with restrictive regulations at the expense of a vocal few home owners concerned with control and the status quo.
I would like to remind residents that these institutions provide solid employment opportunities and economic benefits. They provide bountiful local opportunities for cultural and academic enrichment. Residents should help these institutions survive by allowing them some flexibility to reinvent themselves in a quickly changing environment. They should not fear modest controlled growth. Choking them with restrictions and controls favored by a small group of vocal residents is misguided and not fair. They need some freedom so they can continue their mission of educating students, enriching this city economically, and providing the cultural, social, learning and artistic activities they support. That way we citizens can truly have it all, a great place to live, work and play. I urge you to support these great institutions.
4. I just want you to know that I support Webster University and Eden Seminary's plans for the future. I live in Rock Hill and I believe that Webster University is a vital part of the community and Saint Louis as a whole. Webster University is a place where lives are changed for the best. Webster enhances the community it resides in, and should be respected as vital force in the area.
Editor's Note: These letters were added at noon on Sept. 4
5. The bottom line is that we all benefit from the Eden and Webster Groves cooperative efforts and expansion. Webster University was named after the City of Webster and has been a primary enhancement of Webster Groves for over 100 years. Even the mascot, the Gorlock, was named after Gore and Lockwood road. The University and Webster Groves are a team. A team supports one another for the good of everyone involved. Voting no against bill 8753 is a way to benefit the majority, not a few whistle blowers.
6. The eleventh hour aggressive campaign thatWebster University has waged regarding bill 8753 will hopefully not derail its passage. At the August 21st city council meeting, Dr. Stroble declined to speak publicly after filling out a speaker card. Rather curious now a few weeks later that she has so very much to say about the city council and bill 8753. In the recent full-page ad in the webster-KirkwoodTimes, Dr. Stroble states that the bill "limits the opportunity for constructive dialogue among Webster University, Eden Theological Seminary and the City of Webster Groves." The harsh, critical tone of the letter and the way in which she accuses the city council of treating "Webster University and Eden Seminary in disparate ways by singling them out for overregulation and government control", is not conducive to a dialogue for constructive compromise. No, her tone—Webster University's tone—is one of entitlement, the sense that the residents and city should adapt to the University's desire for growth and that they are above the law (the regulations that both homeowners and institutions must abide by to preserve the sense of history and community in the residential area in which Webster University exists). If their full page ad is not enough to convince you of their indignant attitude, check out the "Call to Civic Action" on their website.
The mayor, city attorney and city council have patiently listened to those who have voiced their concerns about the expansion of the University, and the effect on traffic, parking and the integrity of their neighborhoods. The city council has explained in great detail the purpose of conditional use permits as a mechanism to preserve the character of the community and address safety and traffic. The city council has done their due diligence in composing the bill 8753, as it is their duty to ensure that Webster Groves maintains its historical character.