Stadium fears await answers

Lora Pabst

Residents will see the answers to their questions about the proposed on-campus Gophers stadium’s impact on the University community when the final environmental impact statement is released later this month.

On Feb. 8 University officials will present to the Board of Regents a summary of the public comments received since the draft environmental impact statement was completed in October.

The statement will examine potential stadium impacts, such as traffic, parking, lighting, noise, stormwater and groundwater, air quality, environmental contamination and geologic hazards as well as social, community and economic effects.

University project coordinator Brian Swanson said there were 223 written comments from the community, a majority of which fit into seven major categories.

Swanson said the concern of student and fan behavior was not originally included in the social and community effects section of the statement.

“(Student and fan behavior) was an addition,” he said. “We’re more specific now about the issues people are concerned about.”

Soil and groundwater contamination issues received few public comments, Swanson said.

“The (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) has said the site does not warrant a wholesale cleanup,” Swanson said.

The University will continue with their plan to deal with environmental hazards as they arise during construction, Swanson said.

While University officials are trying to answer public comments, residents are worried the environmental impact statement isn’t sufficient for this.

Joe Ring, president of Prospect Park and East River Road Improvement Association, said the community needs to have a dedicated source of income from the University to deal with the negative impacts of the stadium.

“We would like to see (the stadium task force) on an ongoing basis and a certain dedicated percentage of the revenue from the stadium be set aside for that group to finance remediation efforts,” Ring said.

He said this money might be used to finance more police officers during events.

“We’re not pinning much hope on the University coming forward and embracing this proposal,” Ring said.

Justin Eibenholzl, environmental coordinator for the Southeast Como Improvement Association, sent a letter to the University identifying traffic, noise, construction issues, pollution, and social and community effects as major concerns.

“I do not expect that the shortfalls will be looked into very deeply or the proposed community mitigation fund will get the attention it needs,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Lynn Holleran, associate to the office of University President Bob Bruininks, said the University met with several student groups to encourage comments about the draft statement.

The student advisory stadium committee and stadium advisory committee made up of faculty members, staff members and students were “well-versed” in the process and goals of the statement, Holleran said.