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VCU's Broken Promise

As a longtime resident of Oregon Hill who well remembers Virginia Commonwealth University's former promise to the neighborhood not to go south of Cary Street with any future building, it is depressing to see that the worth of Dr. Trani's promises is nil ("King of the Hill," Arts & Culture, April 25).

I applaud Edwin Slipek Jr.'s eminently intelligent, sane and sensible article about the newly proposed plans of VCU to demolish two historic buildings in our small neighborhood. Were it possible, I would place him in charge of all building in the city! He has always voiced the most well-thought-out opinions of architecture backed by a solid aesthetic sense, which is sadly absent (as can be seen in what they have built) in those responsible for VCU's buildings, particularly the engineering building!

One would hope that the head of a large state-supported school like VCU would set a better example of integrity for the young people it schools. Are not those in high office the ones we have a right to expect high standards of morality and integrity? Perhaps Dr. Trani looks to our illustrious president and his officers for his example?

Katharina C. Bergdoll
Oregon Hill

How can VCU President Dr. Eugene Trani go back on his very public promise not to encroach further into Oregon Hill?

It would be unprecedented (and deeply disturbing) for the university to pay $589,950 to purchase a remarkably renovated century-old livery stable, listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and outside of the boundaries of the current 2004 VCU Master Plan, for the purpose of demolishing it.

VCU's proposal to engulf the noted City Auditorium with colossal additions on two sides — jerry-rigged into the alley — would be a textbook example of how to destroy the integrity of a landmark and how to show disregard for a historic district.

VCU started with the mistaken assumption that all of its recreational facilities must go in one spot, which is across campus from its largest dormitories. As Slipek noted, these facilities can go in a number of places. Yet VCU's Environmental Impact Report for the project states that no alternative sites were even considered.

As Slipek wrote in his blistering review, this plan "wouldn't pass muster if presented in a sophomore paper in urban studies class." The public demands to know what is wrong with VCU allowing this outrageous plan to ever make it off the drawing board.

Charles Pool

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