2001-10-05
Technique - The South's Liveliest College Newspaper
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Institute finalizes Greek master plan

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By John Jewell / STUDENT PUBLICATIONS

The new Kappa Alpha house is located on Fifth Street, where the first changes included in the Greek Area Sector Plan will be implemented. Information can be found at www.space.gatech.edu/masterplan.htm.

By Jody Shaw News Editor

In late September, Georgia Tech officials raised a number of concerns in the Greek community when they released their final version of the Greek Area Sector Plan (GASP). Originally conceived as part of the 1997 campus master plan and finalized by members of Facilities, Capital Planning and Space Management, and the Planning and Design Commission, the GASP includes a number of substantial changes that have Greek leaders up in arms.

The plan calls for physical changes to Greek houses and their properties to make the entire area more visually appealing and architecturally consistent. The plan will widen streets, replace fences and retaining walls with consistent designs, hide dumpsters, add sidewalks, and eliminate street parking. Also included in the report is a plan to convert Peter's Parking Deck into a park, as it once was.

"The main motivation behind the changes to the Greek area is to revitalize it by creating a safe residential environment with a variety of outdoor spaces for recreation," said Inter-Fraternity Council President Ian Carr. While the motivation may sound good, Carr believes the plan raises a number of problems.

When the proposed changes were shared with the Greek community in April, Carr said the feedback was "mostly negative." The Greeks made a number of suggestions at an open town hall meeting, but, according to Carr, none of the changes were actually included in the final report made by the Institute.

Mike Patterson, Director of Facilities Design and Construction, acknowledged that, while the initial report is finished, there In late September, Georgia Tech officials raised a number of concerns in the Greek community when they released their final version of the Greek Area Sector Plan (GASP). Originally conceived as part of the 1997 campus master plan and finalized by members of Facilities, Capital Planning and Space Management, and the Planning and Design Commission, the GASP includes a number of substantial changes that have Greek leaders up in arms.

The plan calls for physical changes to Greek houses and their properties to make the entire area more visually appealing and architecturally consistent. The plan will widen streets, replace fences and retaining walls with consistent designs, hide dumpsters, add sidewalks, and eliminate street parking. Also included in the report is a plan to convert Peter's Parking Deck into a park, as it once was.

"The main motivation behind the changes to the Greek area is to revitalize it by creating a safe residential environment with a variety of outdoor spaces for recreation," said Inter-Fraternity Council President Ian Carr. While the motivation may sound good, Carr believes the plan raises a number of problems.

When the proposed changes were shared with the Greek community in April, Carr said the feedback was "mostly negative." The Greeks made a number of suggestions at an open town hall meeting, but, according to Carr, none of the changes were actually included in the final report made by the Institute.

Mike Patterson, Director of Facilities Design and Construction, acknowledged that, while the initial report is finished, there will be more opportunity to work together before the plan is actually implemented.

"The next step in the process will be 'implementation planning,' not actual implementation. To accomplish this planning, I expect there will be a Greek Sector Plan Implementation Committee established," said Patterson.

The implementation planning phase will allow the Institute and Greeks to iron out the details of the reports and any issues that may arise in its implementation such as utilities, property ownership, and fundraising. In theory, that committee would include some student representation to implement the many modifications.

Thus far, Tech has suggested that the financial burden be split among the Institute, the City of Atlanta, and the Greek community, but Greek leaders expressed apprehension about the situation.

"A big concern for both sororities and fraternities is the funding," said Susanne Hodges, Panhellenic President.

"Not only is Tech telling us what we need to change, but it is also making us foot the bill for it," said Carr.

One aspect of the area to be improved is the network of roadways. Tech plans to create a hierarchy of roads to improve traffic flow, which means some roads will lose all street level parking. The loss of street parking, combined with the loss of Peter's Parking Deck, concerns Carr. The plan does propose a new deck near the O'Keefe Gym, but many Greek women and their advisors believe this may not be a viable solution.

"For those women who live in not only sorority houses, but also on East campus housing, a long walk alone at night is not safe," said Carr.

Aside from parking, the mandated changes to Greek properties are also concerning. Off-street parking, nonessential driveways, and wide alleys will have to be eliminated. All fences in place will have to be replaced with a fence made of materials approved by Tech, which excludes wood. The same rule applies to retaining walls.

Property items like decks and basketball courts will have to conform to codes mandated by the City. That means any structures in the front of the property will have to be removed. Property changes particularly concern Panhellenic, since the Board of Regents owns all sorority properties.

"Since they are Board of Regents owned, the Institute can basically make us do what they want to," said Hodges.

When the plan is implemented, it will begin with the Fifth Street area, which will become a major campus gateway with the opening of Technology Square in 2003. The rest of the changes will take place over a five-year period.

"I hope, in the long run, this will have a positive effect on the houses. I think it will be a while before we see any of those positive effects, but we will see many more negative effects in the near future," said Carr.will be more opportunity to work together before the plan is actually implemented.

"The next step in the process will be 'implementation planning,' not actual implementation. To accomplish this planning, I expect there will be a Greek Sector Plan Implementation Committee established," said Patterson.

The implementation planning phase will allow the Institute and Greeks to iron out the details of the reports and any issues that may arise in its implementation such as utilities, property ownership, and fundraising. In theory, that committee would include some student representation to implement the many modifications.

Thus far, Tech has suggested that the financial burden be split among the Institute, the City of Atlanta, and the Greek community, but Greek leaders expressed apprehension about the situation.

"A big concern for both sororities and fraternities is the funding," said Susanne Hodges, Panhellenic President.

"Not only is Tech telling us what we need to change, but it is also making us foot the bill for it," said Carr.

One aspect of the area to be improved is the network of roadways. Tech plans to create a hierarchy of roads to improve traffic flow, which means some roads will lose all street level parking. The loss of street parking, combined with the loss of Peter's Parking Deck, concerns Carr. The plan does propose a new deck near the O'Keefe Gym, but many Greek women and their advisors believe this may not be a viable solution.

"For those women who live in not only sorority houses, but also on East campus housing, a long walk alone at night is not safe," said Carr.

Aside from parking, the mandated changes to Greek properties are also concerning. Off-street parking, nonessential driveways, and wide alleys will have to be eliminated. All fences in place will have to be replaced with a fence made of materials approved by Tech, which excludes wood. The same rule applies to retaining walls.

Property items like decks and basketball courts will have to conform to codes mandated by the City. That means any structures in the front of the property will have to be removed. Property changes particularly concern Panhellenic, since the Board of Regents owns all sorority properties.

"Since they are Board of Regents owned, the Institute can basically make us do what they want to," said Hodges.

When the plan is implemented, it will begin with the Fifth Street area, which will become a major campus gateway with the opening of Technology Square in 2003. The rest of the changes will take place over a five-year period.

"I hope, in the long run, this will have a positive effect on the houses. I think it will be a while before we see any of those positive effects, but we will see many more negative effects in the near future," said Carr.