December 11, 2012
Wesleyan decides against relocating bookstore
by Nick Davies
In November, Wesleyan University announced a proposal to move its student bookstore off-campus to a new site on Washington Street in Middletown, CT. But after being confronted with opposition both from Wesleyan students and Middletown residents, university officials decided last week that the store is going to stay put.
The Wesleyan Argus reports that real estate company Centerplan Companies had proposed moving the campus bookstore, Broad Street Books, to a three-story complex in town, a suggestion that was widely criticized by locals, primarily over “the dangers of crossing the very busy Washington Street and concern about the negative effects of introducing national chains into Middletown.” On December 5, Associate Vice President for Finance Nathan Peters and Associate Vice President for Facilities Joyce Topshe announced to the student body that Broad Street Books will stay where it is, “on the basis of strong community sentiment.”
The Wesleyan community is pleased with the final decision, according to the Argus. Ed Thorndike, owner of the Red & Black Café, is particularly relieved, since the café is located within the bookstore but owned separately, and would have been at risk of closing if the original plan had gone ahead. Andrew Trexler, a committee chair for the Wesleyan Student Assembly, also supports the reversal, saying, “The Middletown community and the Wesleyan community have generally been in opposition to it, and it would be damaging to town-gown relations if Wesleyan went ahead with the project without the Middletown community’s support.”
Still, people in the area are open to changes that could improve the bookstore. Even Thorndike said, “We do think this is a good opportunity for the University to re-examine the bookstore… The business of selling books is rapidly changing, and we should bring all the stakeholders (students, faculty, administration, local community, Follett, and Red & Black Café) together to discuss where the store is headed and what, if any, changes should be made.”
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.