Master Plan forum notes

James Anderson

The final open forum for the University of Minnesota’s Master Plan recommendations was Thursday night at Van Cleve Park. The presentation lasted about an hour and there was a comments/questions session that followed. People in attendance included Vice President, Kathleen O’ Brien, Police chief Greg Hestness, Orlyn Miller, director of University Capital Planning and Project Management, several students from the University and community members from the neighborhoods surrounding the University The Master Plan is scheduled to be reviewed by the Board of Regents Facilities Committee on February 12 and acted upon at the board meeting in March. The public can comment on the proposed plan from Feb. 6 through Feb. 20. The draft of the plan can be viewed here. The purpose of the Master Plan is to create and sustain the physical campus of the University of Minnesota. The last master plan was created in 1996, and O’Brien said this plan will be for the next 10-15 years They stressed that there will be a strict hierarchy in transportation, with pedestrians being the first priority followed by bikes, transit and automobiles. Their goal is for there to be no busses on the Washington Avenue mall once the LRT is up and running At all entry points to the University area they plan on having big signs with landscaping showing that you are entering the campus It was mentioned that the University is the single largest landowner along the Mississippi River and they want to keep all of the views of the river as well as views of the Minneapolis skyline, free from obstruction by future projects The University wants to keep the green spaces like the mall and the knoll untouched and they want to create more green spaces where possible At the St. Paul campus the goal is to enliven it by replacing outdated agriculture facilities with new research facilities. They also want to make it an attractive place to live by adding housing and restaurants. O’Brien said the west bank gorge and the multitude of on and off ramps to the freeway have increased crime because the neighborhood is set up to prioritize cars over pedestrians, which is something they want to change. Among new classroom buildings will be a new physics nanotechnology building which is slated for 2010-11 and will be close to the architecture building. There was a controversial question from someone in the Prospect Park neighborhood, because the University is preparing for traffic around the stadium to increase, but there was concern about this fitting in to the University’s goal of reducing emissions. People were upset about the University continuing to move their Eastern boundaries outwards, especially around block 12 where the future ambulatory care center will be. O’ Brien said it is hard to develop a boundary, because they are always seeing opportunities for growth The University stated that there are no plans to use Granary Road for transportation to and from TCF Bank Stadium because they feel people will know where they have to park on game days and people won’t be driving around looking for places to park.