Neighbors of Gonzaga University are getting a little nervous.
The university is talking about the possibility of expansion, and neighbors aren’t sure they like the idea.
Over the years, Gonzaga has acquired a lot of adjacent land to accommodate its growth. It should be no surprise that talk of more growth leaves the neighboring property holders feeling insecure.
“I don’t think the neighborhood should be completely devoured by Gonzaga University,” said Joan Moran, of the Logan Neighborhood steering committee. She said the neighborhood has lost dozens of homes to the university in the past 30 years.
A Gonzaga official said the university isn’t trying to take over the neighborhood, but just responding to a new law requiring that it plan for future growth.
The city wants Gonzaga to come up with a new master plan and present it to the Plan Commission and City Council for debate.
GU officials will hold a meeting for residential property owners tonight at 7 at the Schoenburg Conference Center, N800 Pearl. They said they want to initiate an exchange of information with neighbors.
A similar meeting was held last week with commercial property owners.
Jerry Gillogly, who runs American Dry Ice at E128 Boone, said he attended last week’s meeting and was left with the feeling the city is giving Gonzaga additional authority to buy up the neighborhood.
“It feels like they are kicking local businesses out of here,” Gillogly said.
The new city law requires colleges, hospitals and other institutions to develop long-term plans and identify property for possible expansion.
Ken Sammons, GU’s director of planning and construction, said Gonzaga has not drawn any boundaries for its proposed institutional zone.
“We want to meet with the neighbors first,” Sammons said.
One issue, he said, is whether to include property not owned by Gonzaga in the institutional planning area.
Including property not owned by the university could be a problem for the individual land owners brought into the institutional zone, possibly without their consent, he said.
In recent years, Gonzaga added a number of new buildings, and is still considering construction of a replacement for the Law School.
The recent expansion includes student housing, a School of Education building and an art center. As part of the developments, the city gave Gonzaga the right to take ownership of adjacent streets and alleys.
Neighbors said the elimination of streets and alleys makes driving through the neighborhood more difficult and creates inconveniences.
Margaret Hurley, E730 Boone, said she remembers when her neighborhood was occupied by houses. Now she lives next to the education building.
“Their desire to expand has troubled some of us,” Hurley said. “I don’t want to be swallowed up any more.”