September 25, 2003



Two ways to influence the future of Yellow Springs

One would think the fact that Antioch University McGregor is considering relocating its campus out of town would cause an uproar in Yellow Springs. Yet, this issue doesn’t seem to be generating much discussion in town, and community reaction pales in comparison to that regarding changes made at WYSO in 2002.

The history of Yellow Springs is intimately tied to the history of Antioch. And Antioch McGregor, at the moment, is the most financially sound part of the university. The presence of McGregor in Yellow Springs also brings recognition to the village.

Last month, Barbara Gellman-Danley, the president of Antioch University McGregor, announced that the school wants to expand its facilities to accommodate its growing student body. McGregor may accomplish this goal by moving to a new location elsewhere in the Miami Valley.

The possible loss of McGregor to the village is a frightening prospect. Antioch McGregor brings adult students from all over the Miami Valley to Yellow Springs for classes on weekday evenings and Saturdays. Students in the conflict resolution program travel here periodically from miles away for a two-week residency, familiarizing more out-of-towners with Yellow Springs.

Let’s be frank. These students spend money here. They impact the village’s economy. We have already lost several businesses this year. Do we want to risk losing one more?

We should encourage Village administrators to continue to work with Ms. Gellman-Danley to make expansion within the village a possibility. McGregor should consider staying in its present location and utilizing some of the empty existing space on the Antioch campus. This would not only save Antioch University money, it would keep resources and personnel together. If that isn’t possible, Antioch McGregor would be an excellent addition to the proposed commerce park.

That Antioch McGregor is expanding and needs larger facilities is a wonderful problem and opportunity. However, the school administration should be careful not to discount the appeal Yellow Springs has to its students. Students traveling here to attend class are welcomed into a quiet, friendly village. Antioch McGregor should use this opportunity to give back to the community that helped it to grow.

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Villagers have another important opportunity to influence the direction of Yellow Springs this Tuesday at a public forum to meet and talk with the two finalists for chief of police in Yellow Springs.

Unfortunately, forums such as this have been poorly attended in the past. In July, a forum was held to discuss the qualities villagers feel the chief of police should possess. Only seven community members attended this event, three of whom work for the Village. In the fall of 2000, 14 residents participated in a “meet and greet” forum with the candidates for the Village manager position.

The chief of police holds quite a bit of influence in town. His leadership sets the tone for the police force, influencing personnel and budgetary decisions and the nature of the Police Department’s relationship with the community. Residents have spoken about the need for a police chief who is sensitive to the diversity of Yellow Springs. The new police chief will also need to understand the character and needs of the community’s youth.

The forum Tuesday is an opportunity for every person in Yellow Springs to have some say in who becomes the next police chief. The Police Chief Search Committee and Village Manager Rob Hillard have expressed the need for input from residents, which, they say, will be taken into consideration when a choice is made. Local residents need to step up to the plate and attend the forum as interested community members.

—Karen Gardner