Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How F&M Could Help the Neighborhood

I appreciate the cultural opportunities that F&M provides to the entire community and I consider the College to be one of Lancaster's greatest assets. However, I am not alone in considering that John Fry is a different type of president than what we were used to previously. A woman who has lived in the same house in the College neighborhood for more than 50 years recently said, referring to issues that concerned her neighbors, "We didn't seem to have these kinds of problems before John Fry came here." Other home owners have criticized John Fry for "not caring about the neighbors".

An article about Paris in the Oct. 2006 issue of National Geographic, titled "Space for the Soul", described the urban areas in the city of Paris that have been turned into "green playing fields" to be used by the citizens of Paris. This brought to my mind an idea: Instead of developing Butler Field as he is reportedly planning to do, why doesn't John Fry decide to retain Butler Field as an open green space, to be available to the community for rest and recreation? Little League soccer games could continue to be played there and the field could be used by all ages to walk, play or simply relax.

An overpass could be built across Harrisburg Pike, for easy access.... The playing fields could be called the "John Fry Playing Fields" or something similar, to give him recognition for adding to the livability of this area. This is especially important since Lancaster City and its suburbs are deficient in the amount of open green space for the size of the population that lives here. This would go a long way towards creating good will with residents in Lancaster City and Township, and especially School Lane Hills.

In addition, if John Fry would decide to clean the former city dump on both sides of the Conestoga and not just the side where the train tracks are to go, that would create additional good will, especially with those who live in the Barrcrest and Farmingdale neighborhoods.

And, if John Fry would take responsibility for providing sufficient on-campus parking for student cars by building a multi-level parking deck or parking garage on campus property , that would help to create acceptance for F&M’s controversial multi-unit plan for student housing (James Street Properties) on city streets east of the campus.

These acts would help to maintain the regard that city and county residents have traditionally held for F&M as an institution, and would create a legacy that would continue long after John Fry's term as president of F&M has terminated and he goes on to a new challenge at another institution of higher learning.