As a resident, I had the privilege of sitting in and observing the first of several joint, collaborative and unprecedented meetings between Webster University, Eden Seminary and the city of Webster Groves to seek positive resolution of both the Eden and Webster University master plans. This is not a meeting summary, but my constructive feedback:
1. After introductions, I wish the group would have first focused on the positive note of what's right, what do they like about the current situation and what's working. Net, focusing first on what's good about what they all are doing may have allowed them to find that there's more common ground between the three entities than they think.
2. I wish the group was then asked to identify the biggest problems and critical issues to tackle and solve.
3. Vince Lombardi's great, timeless quote goes, "Do only a few fundamental things, but do them extraordinarily well." It's all about focus and acknowledging that you can't do everything, but you can do certain things really well. In this regard, based on the resident emails, letters to the editors and remarks at City Council meetings starting 2 1/2 years ago, there are consistently two HUGE questions facing the group that tower above all others:
- Should Webster University cross north over Lockwood? Particularly as it relates to the the 5.25 acres of Eden property that Webster U agreed to purchase for $5.3 million in December 2009, and which included the Luhr Library, White House and Wehrli Center.
- What's going to happen to the Eden "green space?" Personally, if the three entities can fairly and equitably answer these two questions, the rest of the two respective master plans will fall into place.
Finally, in yesterday's meeting, even though discussing Ordinance #8753 (a conditional use permit for Eden) was technically off the table, both President Beth Stroble of Webster University and President David Greenhaw of Eden Seminary did not hesitate to voice their displeasure, concerns, and problems with the current state of ordinance #8753, which will be up for its third and final reading and city council vote in next week's Sept. 4 city council meeting.
Here's what I don't get: given 1) the collaborative team spirit Webster University, Eden Seminary and the city of Webster Groves started in yesterday's meeting, and 2) that two of the three entities have significant problems with Ordinance #8753, why would the city council continue to move ahead to pass it instead of tabling it for later consideration, if not totally throwing it out and starting over fresh, for the collaborative good of all three entities? Plus, if the ordinance did pass, it would seem a really bad way for a collaborative team effort to begin.
In the Aug. 21 city council meeting, several members of Residents FOR Webster Groves spoke in support of Ordinance #8753 because, in my opinion, they do not trust and are not supporters of either Webster U. and Eden Seminary.
However, many other residents, like me, are on the side of Webster University and Eden Seminary. We sincerely hope city council reconsiders what it is doing with Ordinance #8753 and stops this train before it leaves the station. There is a great saying that says, "For every short-term decision is a long-term consequence." The long-term negative consequence of passing this short-term ordinance could be severe and stop the collaborative process in its tracks.
Thanks for listening.
124 S. Elm Avenue; 952-0910; email@example.com