From the Sewanee Mountain Messenger 1/31/2020
To start the New Year, I will provide a big picture for the Village project.Then, I will use my subsequent monthly reports to focus on each of the priority projects in detail. So this month the focus is on: THE BIG PICTURE
I was appointed by the Vice-Chancellor in January 2017 to spend my time and energy on advancing the Village Development Project. I utilized the 2016 Village Master Plan (available at www.sewanee.edu/village) as the long term “blue print” for the project. The plan was utilized to provide a pragmatic and systematic approach to develop and create a vibrant downtown Sewanee. In fact, when it was presented to the community in the fall of 2016, it was referred to as “a 100-year plan”. It provides guidance for such things as new roads, trails, walkways, sites for new homes and businesses as well as sustainable approaches to keep the culture and character of Sewanee as a core principle. It is a fundamental building block to be utilized when opportunities and funds become available. It is an invaluable resource to inform future improvements. There was never any intention to do everything at once. It was simply created to have a plan as a basis to make incremental improvements. It was also a good starting point to identify “short-term” projects. So, in early 2017, I identified 5 priority projects that would be completed by 2022. These 5 projects were my short term focus for the Village Project. It provided me with an agenda of items to devote my time, energy and efforts. Well, 3 years have ticked by and 29 months lie ahead before July 2022. So what has been accomplished and what remains to be done? I will be addressing each of these projects in my future columns in the coming months.
The priority projects identified in January of 2017 were:
1) The narrowing of 41-A to better connect both sides of that road barrier
2) Replace the Sewanee Market with a specialty food market to provide more groceries, meat and produce.
3) Provide additional places to live in Sewanee.
4) Create a civic space for gatherings and events.
5) Relocate the University Bookstore to the Village.
All these projects are still very active and have made slow and steady progress. Each of them are still on track to be completed by July 2022.
On the way, many other elements to the overall project have been addressed such as; tourism, stormwater, fundraising, engaging developers, parking, marketing and communication, architectural standards, zoning, and on and on. But the five priority projects are on track to begin the early stages of creating a vibrant and active downtown Sewanee.
So it bears mentioning what the motivation is for this effort. It’s simple: to attract and retain students, faculty and staff. Therefore, it is imperative that Sewanee be a place that is vibrant and attractive with a variety of commercial offerings to entice those considering joining this great institution. Everyone would agree that a strong University of the South is an essential ingredient to town viability.
The next Village Update meeting will be held on Tuesday February 4th at the Blue Chair at 10 AM and again at 4:30 PM. I will continue to provide updates on the priority projects as well as a specific topic for each meeting. The February meeting topic will be Tourism in Sewanee. Both the Carey Fellows final recommendations presented in December and the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association’s effort to create a tourist destination for the South Cumberland region will be discussed.
Hope to see you there!
Frank X. Gladu is a Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor and project Manager for the Sewanee Village Development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 931-598-3397. More information about the Sewanee Village Project can be obtained at the web site: www.sewanee.edu/village and the Facebook page: “Sewanee Village Project” and on Instagram at the “Sewanee Village Project”