by Tanner Glasscock
On Oct. 26, the Town and Gown Committee met at the Fredericksburg City Police Department to discuss issues pertinent to the community, including campus infrastructure and police activity on and around campus. The committee meets bi-annually, switching locations between university and city facilities, and is composed of representatives from both UMW and leaders from the greater Fredericksburg area. The purpose of the committee, which is facilitated by University President Troy Paino, aims to unite the University and the broader Fredericksburg community.
Fredericksburg City Police Chief Brian Layton began the meeting with an address regarding police activity on and around campus. He first spoke of parking violations in the College Heights neighborhood.
“[The average number of] parking tickets issued in the College Heights neighborhood this month sits at 56.4, which is in line with the average from last year,” he said.
Additionally, Layton discussed the issue of noise and the procedure for addressing such complaints.
Several members of the local community spoke on this topic. Many complaints were made regarding the metal concert on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the UMW Amphitheatre. UMW Police had allegedly issued a warning to the event organizers following initial complaints, but there was no formal law enforcement intervention, and the concert proceeded as planned.
After an apology from Chief of UMW Police Michael Hall, he said, “One of the things that we are doing is learning from that … And we have been working collaboratively with these student groups to find better venues.”
Regarding public safety, Hall added that the blue lights on campus have gotten a major update; they are now equipped with cameras that can transmit video feed to the University police communications center. Additionally, he noted that the University of Mary Washington Police headquarters plans to be relocated from South Hall to Eagle Village in a storefront next to Patriot Subs by January.
Another topic of conversation for the committee was campus infrastructure.
The current plans for the new theatre building involve the demolition of Russell and Marshall Halls, which both sit near the intersection of Sunken Road and William Street. Final design plans are still being drafted, and a date has yet to be announced regarding the demolition.
Additionally, UMW was awarded a sum of $11.25 million from the state of Virginia to use in exterior and interior renovations on campus, which is planned to be used primarily for landscaping and maintaining the grounds with a focus on Jefferson Square and Ball Circle.
Melissa Jones, the dean of students and associate vice president of the Office of Student Affairs, addressed the committee to share information about events happening on campus in the near future and the state of campus-hosted events in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“I love to see the vibrancy return to campus,” she said.
At the end of the meeting, the floor was opened up for discussion pertaining to issues not included in the schedule of topics, and many members of the community voiced their happiness with living near campus and the connection between the University and the greater Fredericksburg community.
“It’s so nice living next to campus and seeing the vibrancy and the community” commented Tim Duffy, a city council member and UMW alumnus.
The meeting adjourned once there were no more comments.