Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WWU - Huxley Mudslide Inevitable?

The WWU version of the California mudslide was updated on 11 March at the university campus. Various means of financing were presented by Stratus, the outfit providing oversight of the glissade of WWU down the hill and to the waterfront. You can read the report on the meeting in the Bellingham Herald by clicking here. (Update on "click" option: The Herald now requires registration to access certain pages and stories on its website.)

I attended this WWU/Stratus presentation and was particularly struck by the hesitancy voiced by a member of the Huxley College faculty, one of few who raised any serious doubts as to the inevitability of the move. As reported by the Herald, “Huxley associate professor John McLaughlin urged administrators Tuesday to make sure Huxley’s new waterfront campus is readily accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and bus riders who will need to get back and forth to the main campus. McLaughlin said Huxley faculty members agree their existing facilities are unsatisfactory, but have questions about environmental cleanup, earthquake safety and transportation issues on the waterfront."

I was surprised by the utter absence of any discussion of the locations at which these additional Huxley students (500 by some estimates) will reside. Given the mission of the college, to wit, “The Huxley College of the Environment mission is to pursue programs of environmental education, research, and community service that reflect the broadest possible view of humans in a physical, biological, social and cultural world.”, one would have surmised that housing all of these newcomers would also have been a concern.

Then I thought of the homeowners of the Lettered Streets and Columbia neighborhoods whose properties abut the academic wedge which is about to be broken from Sehome Hill and to land at water’s edge. These property owners should prepare for the onslaught of renters who will find the proximity to Huxley-on-the-Bay an enchanting prospect and landlords who will find stuffing those residences with as many occupants as possible an equally captivating possibility. Given non-enforcement of the city codes regarding single family zoning, these neighborhoods have an interesting future.

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