Dear Webster University (and separately to the Mayor, City Council and Eden Seminary),
You obviously know better than anyone that Webster University's expansion north across Lockwood is one of the biggest BIG PICTURE issues the three entities must resolve. Per Webster U's Final Master Plan, you also know that the university WANTS very much to acquire and occupy the 5.25 acres of Eden property that includes the Luhr Library, White House, and the Wehrli Center.
But the fundamental question is: Does Webster U really NEED this Eden property to accomplish the goals and complete its Final Master Plan? Please consider the following:
1. Page 10 of your Final Master Plan states "The University's goal to grow its traditional, undergraduate population to 5,000 students is a key driver of this master plan." Their plan for the Luhr Library (IT Center), White House (tear down) and Wehrli Center (Alumni Affairs) appear to have nothing to do with student classrooms or buildings, student housing, or student activities, suggesting that the needs of your student growth goal will be totally achieved on your core campus south of Lockwood.
2. In fact, the essential and primary purposes of ANY university - education, knowledge, research, teaching and, above all, learning - appear to not be provided anywhere in the Eden property, only secondary or tertiary purposes, at best. These primary purposes are provided on your core campus south of Lockwood.
3. The new science building, once going into Luhr Library, has been moved south of Lockwood and incorporated into the new East Quad in the new Interdisciplinary Building. Your current Alumni Office and Alumni House already exist south of Lockwood and could judgmentally easily remain. Net, Webster U has already demonstrated that you can successfully move intended Eden property uses onto your core campus south of Lockwood.
4. The idea to use the expansive vacant space in the Eden property's biggest building, the Luhr Library, for miscellaneous community purposes is a nice gesture, perhaps, but it is not essential or needed, given the primary purpose, mission and goals of Webster U. carried out on your core campus south of Lockwood.
5. Page 36 of your Final Master Plan states that, "it was calculated that there are fifteen acres of future development land on the core campus within the existing forty-seven acre campus." Net, if you needed it, there is accessible acreage in the core campus to accommodate a new IT Center and Alumni Affairs office, and more, south of Lockwood.
6. Finally, as recent history has shown, Webster U may face a potentially challenging process in City Hall getting this part of your Final Master Plan approved. Additionally and importantly, Webster U will continue to face, just as they have the past 2 1/2 years, constant and intense pressure from residents against any Webster U expansion across Lockwood.
Therefore, for the above reasons, a strong case can be made for Webster U NOT REALLY NEEDING to expand north across Lockwood and, instead, to focus and execute its entire Final Master Plan south of Lockwood which, in my opinion, would also make you heroes to the Webster Groves community.
And if you assume and accept the above reasons, this raises the related question, "What is the university's REAL motivation for WANTING to expand into the Eden property?" Could it be to provide Webster U with your initial foothold into the Eden property from which you can launch further and future expansions north into Eden Seminary, perhaps even swallowing up the entire seminary someday?
Thanks for listening and for your consideration.