College Land Donations Facilitate Civic Improvements in Davidson
The Davidson College Board of Trustees voted unanimously in early June to transfer a strip of land in downtown Davidson to the town at no cost, facilitating street and sidewalk improvements in the central business district.
The approximately 400 ft.-by-6 ft. slice on the west edge of the Village Green will allow the Town of Davidson to proceed with plans to bury overhead lines, widen the sidewalk, and shift angled parking further away from passing traffic. The brick sidewalk, buried lines, and new decorative street lighting will complement the Colonial appearance of the downtown business district on the other side of the street, and provide safer and easier passage of traffic through the area. The work is part of the town's overall street and sidewalk improvements plan, and should be underway very soon.
The college trustees' willingness to donate the land without payment or a formal process of condemnation extends its long history of cooperation with the town on civic projects. "Yes, they've been kind enough to work with us on many projects through the years," said Leamon Brice, Davidson's town manager.
The college has also recently donated land to the town for two other projects. It gave away land at the corner of Delburg and Jackson streets to facilitate the N.C. Department of Transportation's paving of that improved link between Main Street and Griffith Street.
The college has also donated 8-12 feet of land along the north side of Depot Street for a block-long town project there. Depot will be widened between Main and Jackson streets so that it can accommodate two lanes of traffic and parking on both sides of the street. In addition, overhead lines will be buried, a brick sidewalk will be built on the north side of the street, and decorative street lights will be installed. That project will begin as soon as plans for burying cables are completed.
"That project is called for in the Downtown Master Plan as a way to provide improved access to the west side of town" said Brice. "The college has been very cooperative on that one."
These recent projects continue a tradition of cooperation between college and town that have helped create an attractive and desirable community in which to live and work. Several years ago when Mecklenburg County threatened to close down its branch library in Davidson, the college and town developed a plan that ultimately led to construction of a new, enlarged Town Library on the Village Green. To accomplish that, the college agreed to lease the Green to the town for $1 per year, and the town bore construction costs for the library building.
Several years ago the college gave the town a piece of its property downtown so that the town's post office could be constructed there.
Davidson's new town park land and historic house at Beaver Dam is also leased from the college, which purchased the eight-acre site from its owners several years ago with the specific intent of working with the town to develop it as a community resource.
"We've always been eager to work with town officials because our interests are so profoundly shared," said Irvin Brawley, the college's associate director of business and property management. "The college's architecture and grounds set the tone for the downtown area, and the town's good governance helps us attract top faculty and staff to come live and work in this community."
Brice agreed, commenting, "The college provides the base on which we work, and it's the town's responsibility to carry that forward into the rest of the community."
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by "U.S. News and World Report" magazine.