The City Council last week formed a brand new consultative group called the Fayetteville Town and Gown Advisory Committee.
The new committee, comprised of University of Arkansas staff, city officials and residents, will focus on issues commonly found in university towns across the country including campus expansion projects that affect nearby neighborhoods, on- and off-campus student housing needs, residential parking and noise complaints, and increased traffic during the school season.
In the past, university and city officials have addressed these things separately, but with record student enrollment and several major expansion projects underway on campus, city officials are looking for a more collaborative approach to solving ‘town and gown’ issues.
Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he approached university Chancellor G. David Gearhart with the idea after residents suggested such a committee earlier this year. Jordan said Gearhart was excited about it and the two sides began identifying which departments they’d each like to have represented in the group.
“This is a banner moment,” said Ward 4 Alderwoman Sarah Lewis. “We have been hearing this need for years.”
Aldermen noted recent issues in which the council could’ve benefitted from the advice of a town and gown committee including Project Cleveland, a recently approved 450-bedroom student apartment complex planned at the edge of an established neighborhood adjacent to the UA campus. Another more controversial issue is an ongoing debate over whether the city should allow up to five unrelated people to live together in certain new developments.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Brenda Boudreaux said she thought there was a lot of potential for an educational exchange, but only with a proper mix of residents, city staff and university officials. “It’s going to be very important that we get the right people on it,” she said.
The committee will be made up of 21 people. It will include seven city employees, seven university representatives, and seven Fayetteville residents. As with all of the council’s advisory committees, the board will meet regularly, and all meetings will be open to the public.
The seven residents will include one member from each of the city’s four residential wards, one university student living off campus in Fayetteville, and one local business owner or representative of the development community.
The council’s nominating committee will accept applications and fill the volunteer positions during the third quarter of this year. Expect the first meeting sometime in fall 2012.
What does ‘town and gown’ mean?
In a college town, the relations between “town and gown” are those between the residents of the town and the students and faculty associated with the school, who in the past wore academic gowns.
Fayetteville Town and Gown Advisory Committee
City representatives (mayor-appointed): Mayor’s office, planning division, code compliance department, police department, fire department, parking management division, transportation services or utility services division
University representatives (chancellor-appointed): Chancellor’s office, government relations, student affairs, parking and transit, athletics, facilities management, Associated Student Government (ASG)
Community representatives (Council-approved): Ward 1, Ward 2, Ward 3, Ward 4, off-campus university student, Fayetteville business owner or representative of the city’s development community