Meeting lets public air concerns about on-campus stadium plans

The University proposed fixing problems that might arise from the stadium.

Lora Pabst

Neighborhood residents voiced their concerns about the environmental impacts of a potential on-campus Gophers stadium at the public meeting for the draft environmental impact statement Thursday night.

The draft statement for the stadium project outlines potentially significant issues in the overall environment of the stadium. Traffic, parking and environmental contamination were key issues in the document.

The purpose of the meeting was for residents to present concerns that the University will consider as it completes the final environmental impact statement.

Residents raised these topics as important issues, but also brought up noise during potential concerts and larger community issues.

Florence Littman, vice president of the Prospect Park and East River Road Improvement Association, said these issues will affect her community on a daily basis.

The University proposed mitigation – actions to combat the negative effects of the stadium project – for each issue that required it.

“No matter how much they mitigate, there will be more pollution, more people, more noise and more crazy behavior,” Littman said.

Littman was also concerned with the accuracy of the highly technical document.

Summaries of the document’s findings were posted at the public meeting. One of the summaries said carbon monoxide levels would not exceed state standards during events. All the findings in the statement came from months of testing.

“I don’t believe it,” Littman said. “We’ve seen this over and over again, where you hire a consultant and you get the report you want.”

Southeast Como resident Wendy Menken brought up many issues at the meeting, including traffic, parking and noise. She also brought up an issue that wasn’t specifically addressed in the draft statement: the role of alcohol in the environment surrounding the stadium.

Menken said excessive alcohol consumption is a major issue in the neighborhoods.

“The University still doesn’t have a handle on it,” she said. “It makes the events not fun to go to.”

She suggested the University build an alcohol plan, not just for stadium events but for the whole University community. The plan could include limiting alcohol sales, regulating tailgating and strictly enforcing laws involving alcohol, she said.

Joan Menken, Wendy’s mother and a fellow Southeast Como resident, said the “fundamental question” is who would benefit from the stadium project.

She said she was concerned about how students would be adversely affected by the project.

“Everybody should get something out of this,” Joan Menken said. “If it turns out to be a negative atmosphere, (the University is) hurting themselves.”

Both Joan Menken and Wendy Menken said they would put their comments and questions in writing, but they thought it was important to come to the public meeting.

“Vocally stating the issue can be stronger than reading another card,” Joan Menken said. “It doesn’t carry the emotion or the intent.”

Public comment on the draft environmental impact statement will be taken until Nov. 23. The final copy of the study is planned to be presented to the Board of Regents in February.