LETTER: SMCM Trustee Chairman Addresses Boathouse Decision


On Saturday, December 1, 2007, the Board of Trustees of St. Mary's College of Maryland held its quarterly meeting, and in that meeting, it received a recommendation from its Buildings and Grounds Committee regarding the location of the Rowing Center. After three meetings during which the committee deliberated on this matter, it concluded that the building should remain in its current location. The board concurred with the committee's recommendation and voted so unanimously. We concluded that the current location of the rowing center is the only site that meets the functional and water safety requirements for this building.

Since last August board members have been actively listening to all the discussion from the community and the college and the committee and the board carefully weighed the citizens' objections against the safety and security needs of our students. These past four months were spent analyzing a complex array of issues including functionality, safety, limited available land, view sheds, aesthetics, cost and impacts to the environment before making our vote. The buildings and grounds committee also reviewed closely the report of the 4Cs advisory committee which contained several options regarding the placement of the building including maintaining the current location.

As Maryland's "monument school" established in 1840 as a living memorial to our founders, we are most sensitive to the historical significance of our place and our responsibility as stewards of this legacy. All plans for construction of the Rowing Center and River Center have been made with the interests of the environment, historic preservation, the student body, and the community in mind. All plans have been open to the public and have been approved by the state of Maryland's Critical Areas Commission, Maryland Historical Trust, and the Board of Public Works.

We do understand that part of the view of the river has been lost and acknowledge that this loss has caused deep concerns to some in our community. Given our limited land that is available for waterfront activity, there is simply no alternative location that can meet our functional and safety needs while at the same time preserving the entire view of the river. Mostly, we are saddened by the depth of the divide that now separates some members of the community from the college. In this regard, the board also took two other actions on Saturday. It voted approval of a Capital Design Advisory Committee whose responsibility will be to ensure that future building plans have active feedback from the community early in the planning process. The board also created a trustee level Community Relations Advisory Committee for the purpose of reviewing and encouraging further development of strong ties to our community.

At the college, we are proud to be recognized as one of the finest undergraduate institutions in the country, and we are committed to a good neighbor policy that is in harmony with our educational mission.

This is our commitment as the St. Mary's College of Maryland Board of Trustees.

James P. Muldoon
Chairman, Board of Trustees
St. Mary's College of Maryland
St. Mary's City, Md. 20686

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