Alpha Phi, AZD sorority houses to be built despite new budget cuts

by Rebecca Cress | 12/2/08 4:09am

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Plans for construction on East Wheelock properties for Alpha Phi and Alpha Xi Delta sororities remains on schedule.
by Grey Cusack / The Dartmouth

The Office of Residential Life has already submitted plans to the Town of Hanover for one of the two properties, located at 17 East Wheelock St., and expects to submit plans for the property at 26 East Wheelock St. by the end of the month, according to Redman. He hopes the town's Zoning Board of Adjustment will grant a "special exemption" to the properties, which would allow ORL to convert the apartments into student residences.

The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on the 17 East Wheelock plans this Thursday night. ORL does not expect challenges to the approval process for this property, as the building is within the zoning district for Dartmouth's institutional property, Redman said. He added that his past experiences with College institutional property indicate that the process will go smoothly.

"On College property, we're our own neighbors," Redman said.

Dartmouth owns the land for 26 East Wheelock, but the property is not part of the "institutional" zone. The zoning difference may allow for more debate at the hearing for the 26 East Wheelock plans.

"The neighbors legitimately have a right to engage in a conversation about how this may or may not affect life in the neighborhood," Redman said.

He added that he is hopeful, in light of the positive rapport town residents have with Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and Amarna undergraduate society, which are not located in institutional zones. The lack of complaints indicates the town's general satisfaction with those student organizations as neighbors, he said.

ORL is still working out how it will finance the construction, Redman said, adding that if necessary, the College could pay cash for the work on both properties.

"I had hoped to spend $2.5 million cash and borrow the rest, but this is not necessarily the best time to be borrowing money, so borrowing 'the rest' has me concerned," he said.

ORL is fortunate to have just one small endowed fund -- set up for the McLaughlin residence cluster -- so it was able to escape some of the effects of the $220 million drop in the College's endowment, Redman said.

To limit costs, ORL is considering making "modest service reductions," Redman said, adding that this may result in decreased funding for student programming opportunities.

ORL may also decide to hire fewer undergraduate advisors and shorten the UGA training program, Redman added.

"Could we spend less on UGA training? Could we do it in fewer days?" Redman asked. "Three days of not feeding 127 people saves a lot of money."

Construction at 17 East Wheelock should be complete by the start of next Fall term, Redman said. While 26 East Wheelock may take an additional month to complete, students will be able to move in as soon as construction is finished, he said. AZD president Lauren DeNatale '09 is particularly focused on the date the houses will be ready for occupancy, she said in an e-mail.

"I have a feeling we're going to have more demand than ever from our members to live in our physical plant, which is really fantastic," DeNatale said.

No decision has been reached yet on which sorority will acquire which property, Redman said. In previous interviews with The Dartmouth, Redman has said that AZD will have first choice of the properties.

Redman will meet with representatives from both sororities later this week, he said.

Alpha Phi's president Rachel Feder '09 said the organization has not been updated on the status of the construction plans recently and could not comment on the project in an e-mail to The Dartmouth.

In addition to the Wheelock Street construction, Cutter-Shabazz Hall, Delta Delta Delta sorority and Richardson Hall are all slated for upcoming renovations, according to Redman.

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