Students debate development

Stacey Barchenger

The City of McMinnville announced its approval in January to rezone 24.5 acres of land on Linfield’s Keck campus, and students and faculty are weighing in on the possible effects of a commercial development on the site.

The college’s agreement with developer Trammell Crow is confidential, and it is too early to know what may be built, though rumors circulating campus focus on big-box stores such as Costco.

Linfield College President Thomas Hellie said he does not expect to make any formal announcements regarding commercial tenants until December 2008.

Linfield’s Sociology of Community class is focusing on homelessness and housing issues this semester, as well as growth and development topics including urban sprawl.

It is no surprise the class has been debating the pros and cons of developing Keck campus.

Robert Gardner, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, teaches the class. He said he sees the positive and negative aspects of a development, but he doesn’t have enough information to make a clear decision about whether or not he supports it yet.

“It’s a give and take,” Gardner said. “You have to consider, ‘do we need another development in McMinnville?’ But then there is the other side; the development would bring money to the college.”

Students discussed the possible construction of a big-box development on the land with many things in mind, including aesthetic appeal, increased traffic on campus and the future of the Wellness Trail.

A major issue is the proximity of the land to campus, and the possible effects the development would have on the Linfield and McMinnville communities.

Junior Maggie Crawford is in the class and said a big-box store, such as Costco, would be good for the McMinnville community overall, but not necessarily for Linfield.

“It’d be great for jobs and for students,” Crawford said. “The idea of anything wholesale in McMinnville would not be bad, but I’m opposed to huge development behind the library.”

She considered the location, traffic, noise and overall look of the land when deciding her view on the issue.

The class speculated the development of the land might significantly hinder future growth and construction at Linfield because of a decrease in available land.

Students proposed other options for the land, including a manufacturing operation instead of commercial development that could provide internships for students, sophomore Katelyn Krygowski said.

Krygowski, Crawford, junior Eric Butler and sophomore Nadia Abraibesh met May 8 to discuss the development. The group resolved to write a letter to the vice president of the college expressing how it would like the property used, including offering alternatives to a commercial development.

A sort of buffer-zone between any commercial tenants and the college would be favorable, Crawford said, and something like a community garden could be profitable for Linfield and the McMinnville community.

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