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Marymount College Palos Verdes Looks to Put Expansion Plan Up for Vote

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Images of the proposed expansion; click through the gallery
Taking a new tack in its effort to expand its campus, Marymount College Palos Verdes has begun the process of putting its development plan up for a citywide vote this November, according to a press release put out by the college today. The release notes that after "10 years of planning, presentations, examinations, public comment and numerous revisions within the city’s processes, the College has determined that the piecemeal approach is no longer sustainable." Indeed, Marymount College's proposal, which includes new student housing, a new library, wellness center, and athletic field, had faced opposition from some locals. According to the most recent issue of Palos Verdes Pennisula News, a group called Concerned Citizens Coalition/ Marymount Expansion Inc. has opposed development. The News also notes the City Council was scheduled to conduct a "public hearing, possibly in April, to weigh the appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision and the final EIR." More on this tomorrow, but after the jump, the exciting press release.

The Marymount Plan - Preserving a Treasured City Asset

Marymount College Palos Verdes Seeks Ballot Initiative

On Tuesday, March 2, Marymount College Palos Verdes filed its “Notice of Intention to Circulate Petition” with the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, the first step in Marymount’s effort to obtain voter approval for the “Marymount Plan” -- the College’s campus improvement plan. This legal notification to the Rancho Palos Verdes election official informs the city of the college’s purpose for seeking a ballot initiative. It provides the specific text of the college’s initiative measure and suggests a title and summary for the actual ballot. This initiative is intended for a vote of the residents of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes in the November 2010 general election.

“Marymount College is requesting that the voters of Rancho Palos Verdes have an opportunity to decide on Marymount’s plans for its students, alumni and the community,” said Burt Arnold, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Marymount College.

After 10 years of planning, presentations, examinations, public comment and numerous revisions within the city’s processes, the College has determined that the piecemeal approach is no longer sustainable.

“We’ve completed all that has been requested by the city,” said Arnold. “This exhaustive process has included the leadership of not one, but three college presidents in the 78-year history of the college. The college’s fourth and fifth presidents, and now its sixth president, Dr. Michael S. Brophy, and the college’s board of trustees have been engaged in the pursuit of City-approved entitlements for the college. Just as a homeowner wants to improve his home’s appearance by updating a kitchen or adding a pool, Marymount wants to ensure that it can continue to serve its students and our community with new, state-of-the-art, superior facilities.”

This ballot initiative will include a proposal for a new library, wellness center and an athletic field. Additionally, it provides residential living for 250 students. Under the City of Rancho Palos Verdes’ current conditional use permit with the College, the Marymount College campus on Palos Verdes Drive East may accommodate 793 students. The modernization ballot initiative will not change this enrollment cap. Nor will it change the park-like surroundings of the campus situated on 24.57 acres. This modernization plan will improve the visual look of the campus as well as create new facilities for the community to use.

Although the Rancho Palos Verdes Planning Commission approved Marymount’s Environmental Impact Report and Conditional Use Permit, which were then sent to the City Council for final approval, the college’s plans were stalled when a small group of community members filed an appeal with the City Council – the final stage of the approval process.

This continued delay in the approval process has been costly. For a decade, the college has expended significant funds and time in the pursuit of approvals with the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. In addition, the City of Rancho Palos Verdes has spent significant resources and staff time in response to the delays.

“Precious, privately-raised money has been spent that should have otherwise been channeled into campus improvements and student learning,” said Dr. Michael Brophy, president of Marymount College. “We hope to bring to voters in the November 2010 general election an initiative that outlines a simple plan to revitalize the aging campus facilities in order to meet the needs of both today and tomorrow and preserve Marymount College as a place the entire community can enjoy.”

Beginning March 18, students and college supporters will be circulating petitions to the residents of Rancho Palos Verdes. “The petitioners will have the knowledge and supporting literature to bring the initiative to ballot,” said Brophy. “With the completion of signatures for the initiative, the decision for the college’s modernization plans will be made by the voters on Election Day, Tuesday, November 2.”

Marymount College is a student-centered, culturally rich, Catholic learning environment for students of all faiths who seek to transform their lives and achieve academic, professional and life goals. Marymount College, located along the picturesque coastline of Rancho Palos Verdes on Palos Verdes Drive East., offers both two- and four-year degrees.