U officials discuss upcoming stadium site assessment

The environmental assessment is expected to be completed in January.

Than Tibbetts

University officials and stadium consultants explained and presented a timeline for the environmental assessment of the site of a potential on-campus stadium Tuesday.

Approximately 50 curious – and mostly supportive – people listened as the stadium consultants made their first of many public presentations.

The consulting firm, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., will complete what is known as an environmental assessment worksheet. This is the first part of the $1.5 million stadium site assessment.

Kelly Bettendorf, project manager for the firm, said the worksheet allows consultants to evaluate each of the study’s subject areas. It will also determine which issues and areas are pertinent to a more in-depth study.

The subject areas could include the following: community effects, construction effects, traffic and parking, water and air quality, stadium site contamination and overall effects on the University and the Twin Cities campus.

Officials said they expect traffic and site contamination to be the biggest concerns in the final environmental assessment. The contaminants could include creosote, petroleum or an assortment of industrial wastes.

University budget officer Brian Swanson, who is coordinating the stadium project, said he expected to see more concern from the visitors at the meeting.

“It was mostly a supportive crowd,” he said. “I think a lot of the questions have been answered already.”

The consultants will deliver a draft of the worksheet later in the month and will take formal public comment about the project in April. Officials stressed that they are open to public comment throughout the project.

The entire environmental assessment project is scheduled to be completed in January.

Swanson said the goal is to start the required road construction for the project as soon as the snow melts that spring.

The University is asking the state to pay for 40 percent of the stadium’s cost. On-campus stadium bills have been introduced in both the state House and Senate but have yet to see any committee discussion.

Lynn Holleran, associate to the University Office of the President, said the chances of a stadium bill passing this year could be in trouble if the bills are not into finance committee hearings in April.