Newman, NIMBYs need to talk
09/05/2012 10:00 PM
The case of the Newman Centerís proposed dorm and student life center near the University of Illinois at Chicago is a curious one that weíve been tracking for a while. Itís certainly not something that the projectís neighbors like much at all.
We can understand the desire of the Newman Center to build Catholic-focused housing. Itís a consistent feature at universities all around the country, and it would probably be well-used here at UIC.
We can also understand the desire of University Village locals to not have a brand new dorm plopped down right next to them. Whether college students are Catholic or not, they can be loud, at the very least.
The new building looks nice, though ó nicer than the beaten down old church thatís on the site right now. That existing building has no conceivable use or value to almost anybody these days, being right next to the highway.
But hereís the deal, people: If you intentionally buy a home near a college campus, you lose your right to complain about things related to normal campus operations.
College students are going to live in the UIC area. Thatís a given. You canít complain because a few more are going to move in down the block. Yes, the project would be better placed on one of UICís many parking lots, but the school seems to have made it clear thatís not an option.
Yes, itís a big development. But there are already thousands of students in the area. Catholic student housing is often alcohol-free, so intoxicated students urinating and being rowdy arenít as big of a factor.
To the Newman Center: Itís time to face the community. Work with them more closely. Hold public meetings. Take peopleís thoughts into account and work them into your project. If they simply donít want a development of any kind, then move from there.
A lot of this battle has been waged through proxy, and that hasnít helped anyone. Itís time to take it in the open.