House Corp. update: The search for a new Shelter continues

A report from Jon Hartshorn ’89, president of the Crescent Colony of Marietta, Ohio, Inc., concerning the status of the Shelter for Undergraduate Marietta Delts:

2008: So close to buying 507 Putnam

It was almost final. The offer of $175,000 to buy 507 Putnam St. was accepted. The Chapter could have left 219 Fourth St. before the next semester.

We had raised money. We had done our homework on feasibility. We had plans for handing maintenance issues. We knew it was going to be a big step for us as a Chapter, but we were ready.

The only thing that stood in the way was the possibility that a Marietta city zoning ordinance would keep us from our goal.

Considering that Marietta students were there at the time, and that it was not considered campus housing, we had a quiet confidence that we would be signing a mortgage in the near future. The news that we would be in violation of a zoning ordinance by housing more than three unrelated people in one dwelling felt like a punch in the gut.

Setting the stage

Long before the news came that we couldn’t have 507 Putnam St. back in Delt hands, it was clear that 219 Fourth St. wasn’t where we wanted to be, for a variety of reasons.

With that in mind, in the spring of 2005, a few of us (me, Chapter Advisor Robert Ferguson ’71, Alumni Vice President Matt Dole ’01 and Assistant Chapter Advisor Rick Neel ’73) set up a meeting with Marietta College Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Lon Vickers to discuss options. Also in attendance were Dan Bryant (vice president of finance), and Melissa Liptak and Bruce Peterson, representing Residence Life.

As a precursor to that meeting, a building inspection was done at the request of the college, and some Delts were invited to go along. The structural conditions of the Shelter were found to be worse than many would have guessed, especially those from college. I feel that if the college had a place to move us right then, it would have been done.

At the time of this meeting, plans were being drawn up for a new dormitory. One of the options discussed was that the Delts would partner in some way with the college in that project.

That wasn’t our favorite option because we were already thinking about trying to buy 507 Putnam at this stage, but it did have merit. We would have had our own space, and that space would be newer and safer.

This partnership wouldn’t take a major fundraising effort to achieve, if any funds were needed at all, and we would not need to manage the property ourselves afterward. It would have been better than moving to any existing college-owned housing, and the fear was – and is at this time – is that the college could decide to close 219 Fourth St. at any time, forcing the Chapter into a dorm or other college space not of our choosing.

Follow up from this meeting was short-lived. Because of economic conditions, the college decided to table new construction projects. This left us to vigorously pursue the purchase of 507 Putnam St., and as I wrote earlier, that came to a dead end. The college was not building anywhere. So where did that leave us?

Where we go from here

Our options are limited. That much is certain.

In the aftermath of losing our two best options, interest in new housing seemed to dwindle. The college did put a lot of effort into partially rehabbing 219 Fourth St. street to make it at least more presentable, and they did work on some structural issues.

Construction of the new dorm at Seventh and Putnam streets went on without the college including the Delts. A few other off-campus houses were toured with the thought that perhaps we could skirt the zoning issues there, but one place was in worse condition than 219 4 Fourth St., one other not big enough and a third location is still being used by the college.

Five years later, buying off-campus housing seems to be a dead end. Partnering with the college on a new dorm is not going to happen anytime soon. Moving to other existing campus housing isn’t a thrilling prospect, and in some ways a step back.

Buying a parcel from the college and building on it is an outside possibility. It would take cooperation from the college and an incredible commitment from us as a Chapter, both Alumni and Undergraduate, to get the funds to do that. New construction for a Shelter for a Chapter of our size would begin at $1 million.

The Marietta Delt house corporation is continuing to explore options. Two Alumni Brothers have volunteered their expertise. Bob Peterson ’76 and Greg Maloof ’67 are currently working with house corporation and will soon be talking with Marietta College about some ideas to get Epsilon Upsilon into housing that will serve us better, and longer, than what we have now.

Sometime this spring, we hope to have a plan in place. Among the plans, which would have to be done in partnership with the college, we are looking at:

  • Tearing down 219 Fourth St. and building a new Shelter in its place.
  • Building a new Shelter on the lot adjacent to 219 Fourth St.
  • Rehabbing the front part of 219 Fourth St. and replacing the back half with a larger addition.

I am now asking you for your support for the concept of working with the college to procure a new Shelter. I think this is our best opportunity, but I will take us in another direction if that is where you, as Marietta Delts, want us to go. I trust Brothers Peterson and Maloof to bring us a deal that will allow the Chapter to prosper. I welcome your input.

If you can, please plan to attend the alumni meeting to be held on the morning of Saturday, April 19th, as part of the Marietta Delt Spring Weekend.

Fraternally,

Jon Hartshorn ’89
President
Crescent Colony of Marietta, Ohio, Inc.