Editorial: University administrators right to listen to town residents

Imagine waking up every morning to see smokestacks and gaudy construction outside your window.

You’ve just moved into the house, but the industrial monstrosity across the street has plunged your property value to almost worthless.

For Charleston residents, such worries were addressed Wednesday night as President Bill Perry unveiled a redesign for the proposed Renewable Energy Center.

And what a redesign it is.

Rather than the industrial monstrosity opposed by many community members, the university seems to have settled for a more subtle facility that blends with, even enhances, the surrounding area.

No more tawdry smokestacks. With the redesign, a sloping roof cleverly hides the smokestacks.

No more worries of clogging traffic on 18th Street; the new truck entrance has been placed on Edgar Drive.

With the Renewable Energy Center’s redesign, the university has shown it listens and cares about the community members’ concerns.

Among the Charleston residents present at the meeting was Andy Trueblood, who commended the administration for the redesigned plant.

“It’s a thousand percent improvement,” he said.

Trueblood thanked the university for asking Charleston residents to be a part of the process since it was originally proposed in November 2008.

Since then, Charleston residents like Trueblood expressed their concerns to university administrators, citing property value and community aesthetics as reasons they opposed the initial design of the Renewable Energy Center.

And the university listened.

Administrators showed they cared about the community.

They redesigned an entire facility to meet the needs of the community, to build an energy center that would not just benefit Eastern, but Charleston too.

University administrators should be applauded for listening to Charleston residents and planning the Renewable Energy Center, and redesigning the plant when the community objected to initial designs.

The university should keep up this practice in the future when other buildings or facilities are to be constructed.

For now, administrators have established a model of how a university and the surrounding community should interact.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at: [email protected].