By Sophie Oriani
The University of Maryland has announced a pause in the planning process for the Western Gateway project, a controversial proposed development on the site of the current Guilford Woods.
According to the Save Guildford Woods website, the Western Gateway project would have deforested 11 acres of currently wooded land, including selling nine of those acres to the Gilbane Development company in order to build townhomes. The remaining two acres would be developed for graduate student housing and continue to belong to the university.
The project has sparked great controversy from neighbors and university community members, including petitions, letters, and a protest march. Opponents are concerned about the environmental aspects of removing that much tree canopy as well as the fiscal impacts of selling the land at a reduced price.
On Oct. 28, the university president and the president of graduate student government addressed a letter to graduate students and campus leadership. “To focus on the Old Leonardtown project, the university will pause current planning on the Western Gateway development to continue to listen, learn and adapt plans to address the critical need for graduate housing,” the letter read.
The Old Leonardtown project will redevelop the Old Leonardtown residence hall, which was built in 1972 and currently houses undergraduate students, turning into a mixed-income residential community that prioritizes graduate students.
While the letter did not directly acknowledge the opposition to the Western Gateway project, the letter stated that the university will study the environmental impacts of the proposed development.
The university did not give a timeline for the pause in the planning process.