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Villanova Responds to Concerns about Campus Project

Do you have concerns about the proposed buildings? Read this document for answers from the university.

Radnor Township's administration and residents have many questions about on its campus.

Dozens of questions and comments were sent to the school a few months ago, and recently replied to each question and comment in a document (in the pdf section of this article).

Topics include parking, stormwater management and a pedestrian bridge across Lancaster Avenue.

Just a few comments from the 39-page document include:

Q: The deck location as proposed, combined with the new dorms, will add much more traffic and many more pedestrians to the Ithan/Lancaster intersection. Radnor Police are already frequently and routinely needed to control this intersection throughout the year, and have become an indispensable element of VU's basic function thereby. Who is paying for their services, and how much?

A: The proposed Design Concept for Lancaster Avenue will reduce traffic in the area since more than 1,100 current students who are currently commuting daily to and from the University will now be living on campus. The number of students crossing the intersection will not change significantly as a result of the Design Concept. Villanova University pays for the services of Radnor Township Police who control the intersection of Lancaster and Ithan Avenues during events, and will continue doing so.

Q: With the proposed parking structure how many parking spaces would be available?

A: The parking structure has space for 1,800 cars and the residential development site has approximately 206 surface parking spaces planned.

Q: How many means of means of egress for the new parking structure?

A: There are three (3) means of egress planned from the parking structure at this time, however, the plan is still evolving.

Q: With regards to the intersection at Ithan and Lancaster, we were promised an over or under pedestrian bridge at the time that the West Campus dorms were approved. What happened to that pledge? Certainly one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that, if you add 1,160 students to the south side of Ithan, an already too long traffic light is only going to get worse. In addition to students from the proposed new dorms, if a bookstore and café are built, then some or all of the students from the north and west sides of campus could also be crossing at that light. If one lowered the number of cycles so that it only accommodated cars, one would presumably reduce the time to get through the light. By eliminating walkers, you might also improve the flow of vehicles on local Route 30 as it sluggishly meanders through the town of Villanova. We currently have more hang up there than we do waiting for the traffic leaving Route 476 further down the road because they must have had federally traffic mandates, and you do not.

A: The safety of students, employees and visitors has always the utmost priority Villanova University. The elements within the Design Concept for Lancaster Avenue reinforce that commitment, as does the thorough input and participation of the independent architects, engineers and traffic consultants engaged as part of the project team.

The project will not result in an increase in pedestrian activity during weekday AM and PM peak hours. During these times when both Lancaster Avenue and Ithan Avenue are most heavily traveled by vehicles, the number of pedestrian crossings will be the same whether the existing 1,159 students commute and park in the lots or live in the proposed residence halls. With the students living on campus, there may by some additional pedestrian crossings during the middle of the school day, however traffic at these times will be significantly less than at the peak hours. The location of the Bookstore will mean that fewer students will have to cross Lancaster Avenue to use it vs. the current condition.
Similar to the intersection of Wayne and Lancaster Avenues, the intersection of Lancaster and Ithan Avenues features an “all red pedestrian scramble phase” wherein all traffic is stopped so pedestrians can cross Lancaster Avenue or Ithan Ave anywhere through the intersection. The entire width of the intersection essentially becomes one very large crosswalk allowing for an enormous capacity to move pedestrians; much more than if pedestrians were confined to just crosswalks alone. Because of this design, the intersection will be able to absorb additional pedestrian activity without any need for added pedestrian phase green time or any other measure. The current pedestrian crossing at Lancaster and Ithan Avenuea is not unsafe nor would it be in the future due to the Design Concept for Lancaster Avenue.

In 1990, Resolution No. 90-04 regarding the West Campus dormitories included a provision whereby the University was to completely engineer plans for a pedestrian bridge, use best efforts to obtain approvals of the plans from PennDOT and any other governmental agencies, and use best efforts to complete construction of the bridge on or before occupancy of the dormitories.
After investigation of a pedestrian bridge or tunnel, a tunnel crossing was designed in conformance with the Resolution at a cost to the University of approximately $1 million. Most of the people involved at the University, the Township, and PennDOT are no longer employed there and records are incomplete; therefore it’s not completely clear why the work stopped. The University’s understanding is that the reasons why the infrastructure improvements were not provided remain the same today as they did then. First, the existing topography of the area does not lend itself to grade-separation for pedestrians. Essentiallymore ‘work’ is added to the pedestrians’ path by either requiring them to walk up (or down) dozens of steps (or very long ramps) to achieve the necessary 15+ feet of grade separation. Pedestrian traffic is like water – it seeks the path of least resistance, which in this case would be the shorter, less difficult, at-grade crossing at the traffic signal. Therefore, it can be assumed that a bridge/tunnel was never constructed in part because the authorities recognized that a great number of pedestrians would continue to cross the street at the intersection, thereby requiring that a pedestrian phase be provided regardless of whether or not a tunnel or bridge was installed.

In addition, introducing a bridge across Lancaster Avenue carries with it new safety concerns, such as bridge abutments obstructing views of pedestrians by vehicles, creating a false impression to drivers that there will not be pedestrians crossing the street, and items potentially falling off of the bridge. Bridge and/or tunnel construction will create extended traffic issues during construction, which may also be a reason why such a crossing was never fully pursued previously.
It is also important to note that a bridge or tunnel will not eliminate the current status of the intersection or eliminate pedestrian crossings at grade.

Q: The height of the proposed structures. The height of the dorms far exceeds established zoning restrictions and as such will dominate the visual sight lines of our neighborhood. The three story dorm on the Ithan Avenue South Campus blends nicely with the neighborhood and I would therefore request that Villanova consider a similar height for their new dorms.

A: The proposed design provides for effective and efficient use of this area of the University’s property. The structure heights are a result of design investigations to accommodate the targeted student occupancy while maintaining a college residential atmosphere. Varying building heights create architectural variety and visual interest.

Carla Zambelli July 15, 2012 at 05:46 PM
H. Thomson, I am so sorry you have such a case of the nasties where I am concerned. Be scornful of my blogging, but guess what? I have actually helped people, including in Radnor. And not for anything other than it was the right thing to do. Yes, I did mention my other blogs as it was part of the frame work of my response. IF I was going to "plug" said blogs, I would have included links. I didn't . I get it would make your life soooo much easier if I just allowed you to pigeonhole me as this bad person, but at the end of the day, I am not. I find it very amusing how intent you are still in being the final voice here. Too bad you can't own your own agenda, yes? Try being less passive aggressive, it might help.
H. Thomson July 15, 2012 at 06:10 PM
LOL. Got to love how she keeps proving my point! I'll have to take her word for what she has and hasn't done for people and why, but I don't really see how any of that matters in this context. I don't know her well enough, or at all for that matter, to care about her motivation. No "nastiness" or "agita" intended here on my end, just an honest reaction without any agenda. That does not constitute passive-aggresive behavior. Seriously off-topic again. Can we try to reign it in and stay on track about the Villanova project?
Intheweeds July 16, 2012 at 01:27 PM
This is why it's important to continually respond to your baseless commentary. You don't really have an opinion. You're just bashing a project for absolutely no legitimate reason. The land is already owned by Villanova. It is already zoned "Institutional". There are zero Radnor residents adjacent to the project. So, despite 30 years plus of enrollment stability, and zero enrollment growth with each and every on-campus housing addition, you simply don't believe that these new residence halls will be filled from day 1. Despite facts and proof otherwise. Oh, and an university willing to bet $200 million that they will be filled from day 1. And now you're against the project because the architecture might not be attractive. To YOUR taste. Despite Villanova being regarded as one of the most beautiful campuses in America. Did you peruse the renderings? Looks really nice, and is light years more attractive than acres of pavement along Lancaster Ave. Institutional sprawl is a concern. But how can it be sprawl when Villanova is looking to build on land it already owns, that is already zoned Institutional, and has zero residential neighbors adjacent to the project? Opinions are great. But opinions are not facts. People like you and Kevin Geary spinning opinion and half truths as facts cloud the real issues.
H. Thomson July 16, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Intheweeds, Bravo for a very succinct, fact-based response. Also, for the great summation of important facts related to this project. Glad to see someone keeping the discussion of this important matter on track rather than half-truths and baseless guessing and speculation. I would love to see something from someone with an opposing point of view with similarly intelligent, fact-based reasoning for opposing this project. Anyone out there?
Kevin Geary July 16, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I and other Radnor residents applaud Villanova for conducting a neighborhood meeting. Villanova brought traffic and building consultanst and allowed them to take questions from attendees. I hope it was the start of dialogue moving forward. There were disagreements but I thank the University for their time and effort. Villanova stated they were working with the Township to amend their proposal to add 2 pedestrian bridges and minimize the 6 story parking structure by spreading out the parking throughout campus. These are important and positive steps forward and hopefully their next plan will include these compromises and others including reasonable building heights and setbacks. What Villanova is asking for is not allowed under current Radnor law and the ball is squarely in the University's court. - Villanova was unable to advance their zoning ordinance change to the Planning Commission. - Villanova has been by told by Radnor administration and residents their current proposal is unworkable. - Villanova has said they will make changes/compromises to their current plan. The next move by the University will be telling. Will it be a good faith effort to compromise and move this project forward or will the University proceed with their original proposal and far-reaching zoning change? If done correctly it will improve Radnor and Villanova. I hope in a year we can look back at Thursday night as when both sides began working together. Kevin Geary
Carla Zambelli July 16, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Dear Intheweeds and H. Thomson no P, I don't know who Kevin Geary is but feel sorry for him if he has to deal with the likes of either one of you, except people like you are big shots on the Internet and half the time don't have the guts to put it put there in real time and be accountable for your comments and your mean as snakes behavior. The problem BOTH of you have is you can't bully me into submission as you hide behind your keyboards on the Internet and you can't bully me into being Stepford mini mes of you when it comes to my opinion on this project, which like it or not, I am entitled to have one. If I agreed with both of you and sucked up to either one of you, we would not be having this back and forth. I stated how I felt, tried to clarify it I the hopes that both of you with your rather narrow minded focus and casual disrespect for opinions that run contrary to your own would at least be able to understand. Yet here you are, hours upon hours since I last commented with the inability to accept anyone might have a differing opinion. I get that you both feel an overwhelming need to protect the University, and that is o.k. I also get that this is your bully pulpit. I am sorry both of you are so miserable, but you need to find other ankles to gnaw on now. For all your protestations of discourse and civility, you wouldn't know it if it bit you on the rear. Have a great day!
H. Thomson July 16, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Mr. Geary, Thank you for your informative response. Sounds like things are moving in the right direction for the neighborhood and the University. Compromise and cooperation on both sides has to be the answer here or no one will be happy with the outcome and it will drag on forever. The outcome the meeting and your reaction to their responses speak volumes for the probability of the project moving forward and both sides being satisfied. I have no particular connection to Villanova other than living in the area for 25+ years and knowing many people connected with them, either as employees, alumni, students or students parents. In my experience, they have been good neighbors and always willing to listen and keep us informed. Doesn't mean that I always love what they have to say, but I do appreciate the civility and effort. Finally, thanks for keeping this conversation moving in the right direction. That is, on target and not personal or mean-spirited.
Intheweeds July 16, 2012 at 03:03 PM
So Kevin, your property is non-conforming per Radnor Zoning Law. You also just petitioned the Radnor Zoning Commission for an addition to your home that would violate existing setback zoning law. So, when convenient for you, you push to bend Radnor zoning law, and that's just fine. But when Villanova looks for setback relief from SEPTA tracks, you publicly denounce Villanova. Despite not being an adjacent neighbor to the proposal.
H. Thomson July 16, 2012 at 03:29 PM
LOL again! Keep it up and, hopefully, at some point folks will simply skip over your comments (at least that's my plan from here on) as you have added nothing of true substance to this discussion. I don't have any axe to grind with Mr. Geary although I do disagree with many of his opinions, too. Don't know him, either. As long as he continues to be civil, reasonable and not hysterical in his responses we can have a healthly exchange that could benefit all. Onward!
Radnorite July 17, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Mr. Geary- I think you have brought discredit to you and your organization by your antics at the Township Meeting. Using such tactics as inviting Villanova, in a fit of staged rage, to hold a meeting on your front lawn is silly and something an amateur group would do. Just my two cents. We are all adults here. Please stop with the false crusade to save Radnor Township. Carla, I admit the comparison was a bit weak but don't let that be a distraction from the main point; Villanova is not bound to conform to the demands of a small group in any quid pro quo arrangement. It would be an enormous mistake on their behalf whether that be an agreement on enrollment or something as seemingly benign as an agreement on what color vans they must purchase for supporting the school. Villanova is a private entity. I find it abhorrent that so many feel such a sense of disdain and entitlement that they feel they can dictate what Villanova can and cannot do. Hate to sound like a broken record but Villanova has rights too.
Carla Zambelli July 17, 2012 at 02:16 AM
radnorite, thank you for your comments. We don't exactly see eye to eye on all points, but I do appreciate the way you took the time once again to express your point of view very nicely. Yes, Villanova has rights, but their property rights shouldn't trump the property rights of those who reside in residential areas around them. And FWIW, I seem to remember a couple/ few years ago when neighbors in Ardmore were having a hard time with Ardmore Toyota and a really huge lit sign and wall of light. I think they actually invited Dealership reps and township folks into their neighborhood and lawns and even a couple of homes so they could understand why the neighbors wanted change. In a weird way, it actually helped. But it was done pretty tamely and without rancor.
Love this Place July 17, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Carla types. Carla blogs. Blah blah blah.... Carla has no life. She does this online everywhere. It is so so so so so old, contrite, boring and yawwwwnn. Woman, get a new hobby. Everyone else, just ignore her please as she thrives on weird Internet Attention as nothing else excites her. Please, people just relax and be confident in your own opinions and stop striving to change everyone else's....
Intheweeds July 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Radnorite - did you watch the video of a very different acting Kevin Geary petition Radnor to break setback variance law to put an out of scope looming addition onto the front of his house? In these Radnor Patch commentaries, I can point to numerous ones where Kevin Geary was blasting Villanova for "breaking Radnor township law" and looking for setback relief. He is at best a hypocrite. The Villanova project has no adjacent residential neighbors. Did you read the detailed answers to the resident questions? They went so far as to suggest Villanova move the Augustinian cemetery and build there. This is a loud, fringe group that needs to be addressed at every turn, as the vast majority of Radnor residents understand that this project would be good for the township.
Carla Zambelli July 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM
dear Love This Place, yes I do blog and I do write, and so do a lot of other people. lots and lots of other people. Out of anyone here who has posted one way or the other, you are the most gratuitously nasty. And you do it hiding behind an Internet handle. You left out that I had breast cancer--- since you seem to know so much about me, I am sure you have something to say about that too? But you keep on hating as it obviously gets you through the day as a superior human being. I have always defended the right of someone to post under a pen name, versus their own name. Like stating your opinion publicly, it is a fine American tradition. However, what it has become is a way for people like yourself, cowards and bullies, to hide. But the editors of sites know who certain people are. And your IP address and trail every time you post too. Thanks..
Ayla Hadley July 17, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Carla- don't you have anything better to do than sit on your computer all day and complain on this blog? Have you ever even been outside of your house away from a screen long enough to walk past Villanova, or do you just bother different people all day through the internet? Also, what does having breast cancer have to do with anything.... we all have our problems, and just because you have had a particularly unfortunate one-and for that I am truly sorry- does not mean your comments on this page are any less annoying or you are any less self-righteous or obnoxious. As for your sarcastic comment about "Love This Place" knowing you so well, you did the exact same thing to "H. Thomson" when you rudely commented that SHE expects women to be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. You are a self-contradictory nuisance and your opinions aren't useful in the least. Please, just stop.
Carla Zambelli July 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Ayla Hadley, WHO are you? Have I been up here commenting 24/7 or merely responding to vicious attacks from people like you who don't know me, haven't met me, haven't a clue about my life or anyone else's? I have pretty much stopped talking on this issue. I said what I had to say, and you all have had a lovely time piling on because my opinion was different from a lot of those expressed. I have responded, however, to nasty attacks like yours. Just out of curiosity, what gives you the right to disparage me and then in essence say I am just supposed to just accept that silently? Whatever helps you get through the day I suppose.
Sam Strike (Editor) July 17, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Hey all, please try to keep the conversation civil. Many thanks!
politeia July 17, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Wow. This is some thread. I don't technically live in Radnor. About a block away and quite close to Villanova, so I am impacted by what goes on with the campus. Am I allowed to post? One thought that came into my mind. When I was in college I chose to and wanted live off-campus my junior and senior years. I would have done so my sophomore year if my parents had allowed it. Having not followed this too closely, and with too many posts that are off-topic to catch up on, has this been addressed by VU? Does VU know how many of these 1,100 off-campus students intend to move back on campus? Will VU force them to move back on campus? Is the 1,100 all off-campus students, or just the ones VU expects to move back on campus. If it is the number VU expects to move back on campus, how certain are they about this happening and why so? From my experience in college, a decent percentage of students preferred to live off campus. I assume that is also the case for VU. I also like to post/blog based on facts and to avoid personal attacks. Hope this can stick to the issue at hand, but that appears be too late for this thread.
Radnor - Taxpayer Dad July 17, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Relax—forget the rhetoric and personal attacks. This is a great example of why good people refuse to get involved in the public. Villanova has the right to petition the township for “zoning relief”. Every resident whether they are adjacent to the property owner or not is entitled to have their fair say in front of the planning commission and or Board of commissioner. Whether they support it or not; that is the right of every resident. This particular “zoning relief” is one of the largest requests of any private party to ever directly petition the Board for this type of zoning overlay. Some legal experts may argue that this is “spot zoning” and will adversely harm other residents. That is for the planning and board to figure out. There have been other large public developments i.e. the “Blue Route” but I believe that was taken under eminent domain. Many may dispute this but the fact remains this will be one of the largest private development projects ever in Radnor township history.
Radnor - Taxpayer Dad July 17, 2012 at 09:01 PM
That in and of itself can be huge benefit to developer, residents and the township as a whole. It is this very reason that this project needs to be looked at VERY closely by everyone. This will have a great impact on the area whether you like it or not. There will be benefits and negatives to all. The question is which is more important: The benefits or the negatives? Don’t just post on a board- attend the meetings, call you commissioner, call Villanova, call the township manager, get informed, get involved. If you fail to get involved you have nothing to say since you did not care enough to do something when you had the chance. There will be compromise, how much depends on what type of compromise the township residents and Villanova can make.
Greg Hudson July 17, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I believe that they refuted this by showing the evidence of success of west campus and how they don't require Juniors to live on campus and that most decide to live in the West Campus apartments by choice.
Greg Hudson July 17, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Also the issue isn't student moving back on campus, as they never would have moved off to begin with. So my guess is that that they would first make this housing available to all Juniors who live on campus for their senior years, then offer any remaining space to the few juniors that live off campus.
Greg Hudson July 17, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Well said Radnor Dad, I would also encourage everyone to look over Villanova's response document. It was very informative and they put a lot of thought into the responses.
Love this Place July 18, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Carla....PLEASE go get a day job. Your inflammatory posts, your self righteous blogs, your "how dare you" fake innocence and "who me" BS responses combined with your veiled vitriol and 50 cent words are as old and tired as the day is long....please, for he sake of everyone here unplug your computer and go take a vacation....my handle is representative of my love of this place while you do nothing but complain and get attention.
Love this Place July 18, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Oh and feel free to write back and continue spewing your veiled hatred. I'm done with this thread...
H. Thomson July 18, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Well said, indeed. I intend to continue to attend future public meetings about this myself and encourage others to do so. As has been said before, this is too important a project for Radnor residents to ignore. No matter which side of the issue they're on. It's also too important a project for folks who haven't taken the time to thoroughly investigate the issues to blindly speculate about. So, go to meetings, read ALL of the the residents' questions and ALL of the Villanova responses, talk to your township representatives and your neighbors, etc.. Then, DISCUSS (not argue) the benefits and/or the negatives. Basically, be an intelligent, informed resident and then everyone will be more satisfied with the outcome. Especially those of us who live and work here and are, therefore, most directly affected by this project. P.S. Sam, thanks for trying to keep everyone on track and focused on the issues.
H. Thomson July 18, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Sam, Seriously, now not-so-thinly veiled threats about editors and trailing IP addresses! This is beyond someone not having civil conversation. Enough is enough.
Enuf NIMBYs July 18, 2012 at 11:27 PM
SOLUTION: 1. ALL voting age VU students residing in Radnor, either on or off campus, register to vote in Radnor Twp.; 2. On election day, these newly registered VU students turn out and vote for the pro-development Twp. Council candidates and/or against the known NIMBYs. Same for the Zoning Board; 3. If no known pro-development candidates are running, get enough eligible students on the ballot to flip the balance on these governing bodies: 4. Put the University's proposal as the only item on the agenda of the first official meeting and pass it; 5. Resign your positions and resume your lives as before. OR stay on and continue providing a much-needed voice for the University in YOUR local govt. It's estimated that about 10K VU students live in Radnor. The voting age is 18. Do the math.
Nationer July 20, 2012 at 11:20 PM
As a villanova student, I am ecstatic to hear that our campus will be expanding. It is also quite nice to know that future students will be able to live on campus, instead of trying to deal with renting houses and apartments in Radnor--I think everyone can agree that college students can push the boundaries of their neighbors. This project will make our campus more beautiful, make the university more competitive in a national arena, and benefit Radnor township as a whole. As the university improves, as does the surrounding area simply because of the sheer number of students spending their money locally. The technicalities of zoning, traffic, etc. will be figured out by the experts; rest assured, everything taking place will be approved by all the proper committees. GO CATS!
DM July 23, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Wow, these are some crazy questions. Move a cemetery? really? (see 143). 152 - why would you think you aren't allowed to go to places on campus? 153/154 sorry about your candy and Christmas lights... sheesh.

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