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PATCH POLL: Do You Approve of the $7.2M UMd. Mansion Project?

There's really no turning back now, with the University of Maryland mansion already demolished. But what do you think of the project anyway?

Buying, building or renovating a campus president’s home is considered a sure way to ignite controversy, The Washington Post reported over the weekend.

It has at least ignited questions at the University of Maryland. the demolition of the president’s home and campus event center and the rebuilding of it for a cool $7.2 million.

What about the athletic teams that could be cut at UMd. , Comptroller Peter Franchot asked at the Board of Public Works meeting. It just seems like a bad time for it, .

Others agree.

“The big question that I’ve heard is, ‘Why is the money being used there instead of for athletics?’” Staci Armezzani, a senior criminology and criminal justice major told The Post.

It’s a little late to object now. The building’s already demolished, according to university communications officials.

The University of Maryland College Park Foundation, which is funding the project, attempted to answer many concerns with a question-and-answer document that accompanies this post. Here are some key points:

  • University funds are not being used for the construction. Private donations are supporting the project.
  • The “home” portion of the project, meant for the president to reside, will be 4,000 square feet, about 1,600 fewer than the current mansion. The remaining 10,000 square feet will be used for hosting events and wooing supporters and potential donors to the university. The home portion is expected to cost $2 million, while the event space is expected to cost $5.2 million.
  • The construction is expected to be complete by July 2012, and events will be hosted there this coming fall semester.
  • There were a lot of problems associated with the building that was taken down: numerous safety, structural, HVAC and accessibility shortcomings. In the Post article, former university president C.D. “Dan” Mote Jr. opens up about several of the issues he and his wife experienced while living there. (President Wallace Loh currently lives off campus.)
Linda Lachman January 10, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I have had a very proud and enduring dedication to the people of the University of Maryland, as an undergraduate, graduate student, and faculty/staff member. I would note that such ill advised undertakings are almost always timed for a period of student absence. Coincidence? Hardly. I am saddened to learn of this latest arrogance.
Linda Martin January 10, 2012 at 04:52 PM
No Univeristy funds are being used to build this project. The UMCP Foundation is underwriting the cost of the construction project, through the generous support from donors. UMD continues to seek and raise funds for scholarships, academic programs, the arts, and athletics. Donors give to particular programs and projects in which they are interested. Their giving is not a “zero sum” game. All donors to University House support other parts of the University and have made clear they will continue to do so.
Robert Catlin January 15, 2012 at 02:18 PM
See today's (Sunday) Washington Post (page C-5) for a response to the negative publicity the project has received.
Linda Lachman January 15, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Yes, please do as Mr. Catlin suggests. Then note that the wording in the Post article referenced above is EXACTLY that in Linda Martin's comments above that. "Donors give to particular programs and projects in which they are interested. Their giving is not a “zero sum” game. All donors to University House support other parts of the University and have made clear they will continue to do so." Coincidence? Hardly. I am still disheartened by a focus on lavish style over grounded substance. As other readers have stated, UMD already has multiple event facilities, and this is hardly a "modest approach." If I had private funds in the millions, my money would be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank to provide food for hungry people in our area served by day care centers, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and senior citizens facilities. I guess that makes me a "misled reader."

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