Regents approve Master Plan, Becker calls for delay

By David Servatius, Staff Writer

The Utah State Board of Regents gave final approval to the U’s Campus Master Plan during its regular meeting Sept. 5, apparently disregarding a request from Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker that the approval be delayed.

In a letter to the board dated Sept. 4, Becker said his office had only received a copy of the draft plan on Aug. 27 and had not had a chance to sufficiently review the final plan before it was put to a vote by the board.

Becker said he was concerned about the potentially negative, and largely unstudied, impact of the plan on surrounding communities.

“Predictability, through an updated Master Plan, will be reassuring for the community,” the mayor wrote.

The letter also made clear the mayor’s desire to cooperate with the U on the plan and commended it for the proposed concentration of open space on campus, its pedestrian orientation and integration of light rail.

The Campus Master Plan will result in significant expansion and redevelopment of U facilities and spaces.

It calls for the construction of dozens of new buildings during the next two decades, demolition of several old buildings and creation of new retail spaces, apartments, restaurants and offices on almost four million square feet of new space.

The U Board of Trustees approved the plan in June. Shortly after, Commissioner of Higher Education Bill Sederburg recommended its final approval by the Board of Regents. Implementation of the plan will now proceed.

“The Board of Regents approved the university’s Master Plan with an understanding that several public meetings were held to receive input as well as a continuing commitment to work with the city and surrounding community in the implementation of the plan,” said Spencer Jenkins, a spokesman for the Board of Regents. “The board didn’t feel it appropriate to impede that process.”

Some local residents have urged a delay in implementation of the plan.
Steve Alder has lived in the area southeast of campus for more than 25 years and has been active in the Sunnyside East Neighborhood Association. He said his main concern is the proposed expansion of Research Park into what is now a student housing complex, but he also wants to know that planners are at least listening to the concerns of residents living around the campus.

“They just ignore us because they know they can,” he said. “Kids get hit and killed on 15th East. We already have roads at maximum capacity.”

U Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Mike Perez said he disagrees that the concerns of local residents are being ignored. He pointed to a comments feature on the plan’s Web site, quarterly community forums involving more than 600 invited residents and three community Master Plan work sessions that have been held.

“We will continue to communicate with all constituents as we have been,” Perez said. “Understand that this is a Master Plan, a plan which is a guideline. It is a fluid document that will be bent and pounded and shaped as needed.”

[email protected]