University discusses campus plans in public forum

This framework for University land-use and development decisions hasn't been updated since 1996.

Ahnalese Rushmann

Back in 1996, Bill Clinton was a first-term president, Michael Jordan was a Chicago Bull and gas cost less than $2 per gallon.

It’s also the last time the University updated its Twin Cities Campus Master Plan – the framework for University land-use and development decisions.

where to go

There will be two more open forums this week to discuss the Twin Cities Campus Master Plan:

When: 9:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday
Where: Mississippi Room, Coffman Union

When: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Room 33, McNeal Hall

The University is in the process of reworking the broad, 12-year-old plan to better address newer issues affecting the campus’s layout, from incorporating sustainability to addressing transportation concerns.

A forum was held Monday at the Humphrey Center, where University community members addressed current campus concerns.

Vice President for University Services Kathleen O’Brien and geography and urban studies professor Judith Martin, co-chairwomen of the plan’s steering committee, presented data and fielded audience questions.

Some attendees raised questions about how the Central Corridor project would impact campus transit. Washington Avenue is already too congested, one person said.

Orlyn Miller, director of planning and architecture for Capital Planning and Project Management, said the site of the future biomedical research park and the space near Huron Boulevard and Fulton Street will be key parts of campus development in the next few years.

Even though the forum lasted 90 minutes, Miller said he was disappointed that the concept of the University as a “living laboratory” didn’t generate more discussion.

The idea involves using existing land and resources for University research, he said, pointing to the Sarita Wetlands in St. Paul as an example.

Conducting current research in more visibly transparent facilities would also help build the school’s reputation as a research institution, Miller said.

“We’re not particularly good about communicating that to the community,” he said of publicizing University innovations.

Two more public forums will take place this week – on Thursday morning at Coffman Union and Friday morning at St. Paul’s McNeal Hall.

The committee hopes to submit final changes to the plan to the Board of Regents as early as next fall.