On Monday, Feb. 7, the Gambier Village Council accepted Kenyon’s proposal to construct modular housing units across the street from McBride Field just north of the Lowry Center on Meadow Lane.
For this construction project, the College sought zoning approval from the Council for its plan to build four temporary dormitories, a support building and limited parking. This proposal was met with opposition from those on the Council and residents of the community.
Members of the Council expressed their worries about how this zoning decision would affect the lives of those who live nearby. One member of the Council pointed out the proximity of the Gambier Child Care Center to the chosen site and noted that residents have previously complained about noise, light pollution and traffic from the Lowry Center and McBride Field. Later, that same councilmember noted that some of Gambier’s most affordable housing is proximal to this area and compared the College’s plan to federal highways cutting through disenfranchised communities.
Residents of the community were also in attendance, including one constituent who said he lives on Meadow Lane. “It definitely decreases the quality of life on the street from being a very peaceful place to a lot noisier,” he said. He also suggested that students may be loitering and littering in the park as well as making noise and speeding down streets. He was concerned that the new housing would “ruin the ambiance of a nighttime walk in the park” and urged the Council to vote no.
In response, the Council considered implementing speed bumps near the childcare center on Meadow Lane and further signage in an effort to curb speeding.
The representatives from the College also stated that construction vehicles will not be driving on residential streets to reach the site and that most construction will be complete by April.
Later in the Council meeting, College representatives acknowledged the overenrollment of the class of 2025 by about 150 students and the plans to enroll approximately 500 total new students next fall. They also announced plans to hold a formal acknowledgment for the Class of 2020 and hold this year’s Commencement as normal.
Lastly, the representatives communicated that if possible, they would like to end the use of Village spaces as classrooms so that more commercial businesses may move into Gambier, and acknowledged the current sparse job market caused by the pandemic.