From Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in GoLocal24.com:
The fierce opponents of Brown University’s plan to tear down four historic houses and move another one to make way for a new performing-arts center have won a victory. The university has decided to move the site of the facility. This would be smaller than the one originally planned and some of it would be underground. Four houses that had been threatened will be unmolested. Meanwhile, the quirky Lucien Sharpe Carriage House Sharpe Building will be moved from its present site to another in the neighborhood.
The people on College Hill want it both ways: They want to live near a prestigious university with a (mostly) beautiful campus but they don’t want to let the institution do some things that a growing university needs or at least wants to do in and around its campus.
It’s Brown, and to a lesser extent the Rhode Island School of Design, that prop up property prices and make College Hill such a vibrant urban neighborhood. But Brown, if it’s to remain competitive with the Ivy League and other institutions it sees as its peers, must continue to build. Expect more battles.
The latest big town-gown battle around here is in Newport, where Salve Regina University wants to build two big dorms to house hundreds of additional students. Some of the neighbors are scared that this would mean a flood of rowdy young people. And the preservationists think that the proposed buildings would be way out of scale for the neighborhood.
But the leaders of even relatively poor colleges like Salve feel that their institutions must grow or die. And even tiny colleges change their name to “university’’ to sound more important.