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NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL MEETINGS: QUESTIONS & RESPONSE



Questions from University and Lewis & Clark Neighborhood Council Meetings

GENERAL

1. The plan is different than the plan approved by the Board of Regents, why is it different?
Answer: The South Campus Master Plan is a document that was adopted by the University and approved by the Board of Regents that didn’t specify any particular buildings. It is a plan to identify how the South Campus property should be developed and for what purposes. Conceptual land use elements rather than specific buildings were identified in this plan; instead, it shows zones for future use: academic buildings, open space, parking, housing, research facilities.

The concepts presented at the recent open house present a refined layout of the approved land use elements contained in the plan. Further refinements of the layout are anticipated during final design of each building.

2. If the University is denied again by the Legislature, will they be willing to change their plan?
Answer: The South Campus location has been the plan for overall expansion for the University of Montana since late 2007, when it was approved by the Board of Regents. The South Campus is not tied to funding for the Missoula College. Construction of the Missoula College building just happens to be the first specific project. The South Campus is needed to accommodate the orderly and planned growth of the University for the next 50 to 100 years. The University is committed to growing at the South Campus in ways that benefit students, the community, area businesses, and UM faculty and staff.

3. Has the University got statistics on how many students will actually be transferring to 4-year degrees? How many students actually take classes at both schools? If this is the reason for the close proximity of the campuses then we need more numbers.
Answer: In the summer and fall of 2012, 375 students who enrolled in undergraduate courses at the Mountain Campus had previously attended Missoula College. 225 of those students were transferring into a bachelor's degree program at the Mountain Campus. This number has increased significantly over the past 5 years, and we expect continued growth.

Hundreds of students already travel back and forth between the Mountain Campus and Missoula College. In fall 2012, 532 Missoula College students took Mountain campus courses; and 748 Mountain Campus students took Missoula College courses.

4. How will UM make up the $80,000 a year that the golf course contributes to the UM recreational fund?
Answer: While there have been some years when the golf course generated net revenues of $80,000, this has occurred in only 3 of the last 10 years. Net revenues in the other years were lower. Additionally, since 2004, expenses related to the golf course have been paid from Campus Recreation not golf course revenues. This was done to keep the golf course from operating with a deficit. In fact, we anticipate that building Missoula College will bring many times that revenue each year because the University will be able to offer additional programs that local businesses and others are interested in.

Why, if you had the questions ahead of time were you so ill prepared to give us any REAL answers?
Answer: We work diligently to respond to the community’s questions.

5. Regarding huge opposition to south campus development, will UM drop this plan if financial approval is denied again?
Answer: No. We have been encouraged by the tremendous support that Missoula College and the location have received as evidenced by letters of support and testimony from people across the state both before the Board of Regents and in the Legislature. We also are mindful of concerns that have been expressed and will continue to respond to those concerns. Please see our response to Question 2.

6. How can the University make a decision until all of the plans are finalized?
Answer: The University has been planning improvements to the South Campus for many years, including the preparation and adoption of the South Campus Master Plan, which came in 2007 after 32 public meetings that were open to the public and included public representatives.

7. It appears the University has already chosen the location at South Campus. IF that is the case, what is the point of this dialogue? Do the other proposed locations even have a chance?
Answer: The community’s feedback on the South Campus improvements is an important part of the design and environmental review process. Community feedback will have a direct effect on the final plan regarding the Missoula College building, and potential mitigation of impacts.



WEST CAMPUS FORT MISSOULA


8. I am still not clear as to why Fort Missoula is not viable.
Answer: The Fort Missoula site is an unfeasible location for the full Missoula College campus due to the following site challenges:

1. There simply is not enough buildable, University-owned land at Fort Missoula, because of the following combination of site factors: a. Flood plain issues reduce the University's buildable area. b. The old Fort Missoula dump/landfill, which occupies a portion of the University property, is protected and deemed a historically significant part of Fort Missoula Historic District, (National Register of Historic Places). c. Artifacts were found at the old dump site during the archaeological survey of the property. These sensitive archeological issues further constrain building opportunities at this location.

d. The Fort Missoula Historic District (NRHP) was recently expanded to include the University of Montana property immediately west of the Fort. This designation imposes strict design requirements and process on any proposed development.

2. A Fort Missoula site for the full Missoula College campus presents significant issues regarding a new sewer system. The site would have to be served by new sewer service connection to the city system and would add considerably to the cost of the project.

3. The open space, traffic, and parking issues that are a concern for the university neighborhood are equally important to the Target Range neighborhood and we anticipate a similar response from the neighbors at any location chosen.

The South Campus property, by contrast, poses no historic or archeological challenges and fewer infrastructure and transportation costs. Further, it is owned outright by UM for the use and benefit of the University. Consequently, there is no need to purchase additional acreage.

The need for additional land for development is clearly stated in the Fort Missoula Master Plan.

9. The drive from West Campus to Main Campus is a significant time.
Answer: We concur. The distance between the two campuses is a significant factor and would pose difficulties for hundreds of students who would need to travel for classes and to access student services between these locations. At one point, under what was called a “Futures Park” plan, there was a proposal for a high speed Magnetic Levitation Train connecting the West and Mountain Campuses. After further study, this proved to be unaffordable and unfeasible to implement.

10. Is the available classroom space in the West Campus being fully utilized?
Answer: Yes.

11. The community is very unsure about South Campus. Why hasn’t Fort Missoula site been given more attention?
Answer: The Fort Missoula Properties have been studied extensively and determined to be unfeasible for expansion of the Missoula College. Please see our answer to Question 8 for additional details.



MOUNTAIN CAMPUS


12. Is the main campus being utilized effectively now and in the future plans?
Answer: This is a good question, as we always want to make sure we are using buildings and space effectively and efficiently. When the University developed the 2002 Mountain Campus Master Plan, 7 potential building sites were identified. Today, 5 of those sites have new buildings on them. One site has been identified for future building use, and the other is not appropriate for a separate structure. Open space is important for all our campuses, and we have no available remaining space for growth on the Mountain Campus.

13. Are the University and city willing to commit to specific numerical goals in parking and housing plans?
Answer: The 2007 environmental review document defines the parking and land use plans and provides an initial impact assessment for that level of development. We anticipate needing to update numbers based on the most current projections of expected development on South Campus.



ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW


14. Will there be a formal EIS to study effects of South Campus on area sewage, traffic, pollution, infrastructure, etc.? And who will pay for the infrastructure improvements?
Answer: An Environmental Assessment was completed for the project in 2007. We know that conditions have changed since that time and have discussed a Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA). We know that some members of the public are concerned about additional impacts. At this point, we are waiting for action by the Montana Legislature before moving forward with additional public forums and before discussing further environmental review. The infrastructure improvements will be included as part of the project cost.

15. Will the University modernize buses to make them quieter and cleaner?
Answer: We understand the interest in cleaner and quieter buses, and share that interest. ASUM and the UM administration have been working to respond to neighborhood concerns about this. One new bus will be in place starting next fall, as part of a 5-year plan. We agree that effective and efficient mass transit is a key element to making the South Campus plan work for students, faculty and the neighborhood.

16. $30 million requested for building in 2011 and $47 million requested from this legislature. Why the difference?
Answer: The total cost of the project is $47 million and the University System originally requested the entire amount. The current bonding bill in the Legislature allocates $29 million for Missoula College and specifies that we will need to match that with another $3 million from other sources. Since the amount has been reduced by the legislature, the culinary wing will not be constructed until a future date when funding is secured.

17. Why is the university not honoring the intent of the Alumni Challenge Athletic Field Corporation when it acquired this property through community donations and ASUM Reserve funds for athletic and recreation purposes.
Answer: The University has completed extensive research into all the documents over the years about the acquisition of the land for the South Campus. We did this research both before the South Campus Master Plan was adopted in 2007 and again this year. We are assured - by both our internal examination of the land use documents and from outside legal evaluation - that there are no legal restrictions on the University's rights as a landowner that would preclude development.



PUBLIC INVOLVMENT


18. What efforts by the University to share more detail and reach out to the community?
Answer: The University held several open houses in fall 2012, and plans to hold more once funding is approved for a new Missoula College building. We intend to include the community in the design process for Missoula College and during the preparation of any updated environmental analysis.

How can the community interact?
Answer: Please plan to attend the open houses and submit comments in writing. We will work with the neighborhood councils, the city and the local news media to get the word out.



TRANSPORTATION


19. At what point does the traffic and parking plans determine if the South Campus plan is still feasible?
Answer: A transportation analysis would be part of any supplemental environmental review of the South Campus. Such an analysis would determine the capacity of the existing infrastructure to absorb additional traffic from the South Campus development, the impacts on the community and mitigations that are necessary to accommodate the development. We are waiting for legislative action to conclude before moving forward.

20. Please clarify the corridor that is to be created for bikers.
Answer: A planned series of sidewalks and trails will connect the buildings on the South Campus, and a trail along the base of Mount Sentinel will connect the South Campus with the Mountain Campus. These will connect the neighborhoods with the campus and the trails and open space on Mount Sentinel.

21. Will there be an increased park and ride?
Answer: Park and Ride will be an important component of a well-planned transportation system that connects the Mountain Campus with the South Campus. How this is laid out and how much is necessary will be determined with future planning and environmental review work.

22. Will there be buses every 15 minutes or less?
Answer: The Mountain Line recently started running buses on 15-minute headways on South and Arthur Avenues, so that frequency of service will not be new. A well-coordinated transit system will be an important component of a sustainable campus transportation plan. Details will be determined with future planning and environmental review work.

23. I’ve heard conflicting views on the Fort Missoula Site. I would like the positions of those against the South Campus plan to be reconciled with that information presented by Pres. Engstrom.
Answer: The University has provided the public with background studies and information used to determine that the Fort Missoula Site is not feasible. More information can be found here: Just The Facts. Additional information also is under Question 8 in this document.

24. What will be done with parking on the south, by the research gardens?
Answer: Parking will be provided for faculty and students working at the research gardens. Parking will also be provided for the Mount Sentinel Trailhead that currently exists at this location.

25. How will unprotected intersections be managed or monitored with increased traffic?
Answer: The city and the University have an interest in making sure intersections are safe and traffic moves efficiently. Further traffic studies will help us determine what is needed at intersections.

26. Will Park N Ride on corner of South and Higgins be maintained? Why is it not shown on map?
Answer: Current plans are for this Park and Ride to remain in place with the construction of South Campus. This may change to a more centralized location with the completion of a transportation plan for the South Campus implementation.

27. How is it really possible that the South Campus have a neighborhood impact on traffic especially given the increased usage that Arthur Avenue has experience in the last 30 years?
Answer: Traffic is an important issue that will be discussed in the future. Please see our response to the following question as well.

28. We would like to see a larger map of traffic implications in regards to the existing residential patterns. (Existing and overlays of project, size proportions, etc.)
Answer: We are waiting for action by the Montana Legislature before moving forward with additional public forums, and before discussing further environmental review and traffic projections.

29. We’d like to hear more about the proposed bike paths and corridors.
Answer: A planned series of sidewalks and trails will connect the buildings on the South Campus, and a trail along the base of Mount Sentinel will connect the South Campus with the Mountain Campus. These will connect the neighborhoods with the campus and the trails and open space on Mount Sentinel. We hope to be able to respond with more information in future public forums.

30. Are there only 2 exits and entrances for the south campus?
Answer: Yes, one access is planned on South Higgins Avenue and one on South Avenue.

31. I am worried about increased traffic in regards to children.
Answer: Yes, this is an important issue. Public safety is a primary concern for the University and for the city. We are waiting for action by the Montana Legislature before moving forward with additional public forums, and before discussing further environmental review and traffic projections.

32. There are 100s of children in the family housing area. How will children be protected from the increased traffic that will be generated?
Answer: We are as concerned as the neighborhood is about safety and this will be addressed.

33. Why are there no parking spaces for the athletic facility?
Answer: A parking plan will be prepared as work progresses on the South Campus. We are waiting for action by the Montana Legislature before moving forward with additional public forums, and before discussing traffic projections and parking needs.

34. The area is already severely congested with the Mountain Campus. How can you assure people that you will address the question of congestion? How will you address this issue?
Answer: We understand this is a significant concern, and plan to conduct a traffic study. Congestion and safety will be addressed as part of that process.

35. What more can be done by the University to further promote alternative transportation?
Answer: A highly effective and functional mass transit and bike system is essential for the successful implementation of the South Campus Master Plan. Alternative transportation and sustainability are important issues for UM students as well. We will work hand-in-hand with the community, media, and with ASUM to promote this.



PARKING


36. Parking should be scrutinized more closely especially in light of attendance – 600 spots for 2,400 students. (2400 students and 600 parking spaces, that sounded like congestion. Where will they park?)
Answer: A parking plan will be prepared as work progresses on the South Campus. We are waiting for action by the Montana Legislature before moving forward with additional public forums, and before discussing traffic projections and parking needs.

37. Will students parking be disallowed throughout whole university neighborhood?
Answer: At this time, no change to residential area parking is planned. A residential parking permit system is certainly worth discussion with the city and the University.

38. At what point will the University stop growing in terms of attendance? If this is a 100-year plan how will it work to incorporate newer methods of learning – like distance education – they may yet to be realized? In essence the Master Plan seems short sighted!
Answer: Distance learning is an important trend and we already are seeing increased interest in online courses. The best thinking about future university needs is that there will be a mix of online and in-person classes. At this point, some research is showing that the most effective learning comes from a blend of in-person and online courses. With Missoula College, we can’t stress enough the need for updated laboratory and learning spaces.



SUSTAINABILITY


39. How will LEEDs be used in the Missoula College?
Answer: Yes, the University of Montana is committed to constructing a sustainable South Campus, including the Missoula College project, which is expected at this time to attain a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold Certification. LEED certification includes important criteria for location of the facilities. A LEED Gold Building in a poor location (such as the West Campus) is not a sustainable or environmentally sensitive solution to our greenhouse gas challenges. It is also important to note that closing the golf course, if that is what is finally decided, would actually attain two LEED credits due to the significant decrease in water and chemical usage. The U.S. Green Building Council discourages the development of golf courses in several of its guidelines for new construction. Limiting parking and promoting Park and Ride will also help in attaining several LEED credits. In general, LEED will be used to govern the design and result in many different sustainable achievements in both the building and site designs.

40. Why would the legislature fund building the South Campus this time?
Answer: The JOBS Bill, HB 14, would fund construction of the Missoula College, as part of a package of building needs across the Montana University System. Authorization to construct a new building to house the Missoula College is not just a Missoula issue, but also a Montana issue. More than half (53%) of the enrolled student population comes from outside Missoula County. In addition: • The Missoula College Campus was originally built for 700 students, current enrollment is nearly 2,500. • In the past 10 years, Missoula College has had the highest growth rate of full-time equivalent students of any two-year college in Montana — at 120 percent. • The existing Missoula College Campus facilities are outdated, small and nowhere near what today’s students expect from a University of Montana education. • Having students and faculty in temporary trailers, no matter how well constructed by University of Montana students, is not an acceptable education solution. By investing in programs that support regional and area businesses, demand for both credit and noncredit workforce training at Missoula College will continue to increase. Companies will start-up, grow, create and retain jobs, and have a need to upgrade skills for their employees and hire a skilled workforce locally.

41. What actual buildings will be built first and in what steps?
Answer: The Missoula College building is the first building to be constructed on the South Campus and will be built in phases. No other specific building is planned at this time.

42. Many of us are students concerned about losing campus activities (i.e. intramurals) in regards to the proposed athletic site.
Answer: Intermural fields are included in the South Campus Master Plan.

43. When the golf course isn’t there any more, where does the public go to golf?
Answer: In 2012, the University Golf Course had the lowest number of total golf rounds played at its course, compared with the 4 other popular golf courses located in Missoula.

44. Where will the hang guilders land once the athletic building is built?
Answer: The intermural fields or other open space areas can be designed to accommodate hang glider landing. The ultimate decision on continuation of this use will depend on safety.



OPEN SPACE


45. Will the university commit in preserving a specific amount of open space in perpetuity?
Answer: The University has made a significant contribution to the Missoula Open Space Plan with its dedication and management of Mount Sentinel land. It should be noted that the University Golf Course Lands are not included in the Missoula Open Space Plan, but the Fort Missoula Lands are included in the Missoula Open Space Plan.

46. There was confusion to the percentage of open space left – please clarify.
Answer: The South Campus covers about 210 acres, which includes part of the base of Mount Sentinel hillside. The Missoula College building would take 7 acres. The current site plan for the South Campus contains 35 acres of high quality open space, 17 acres of which are on the hillside. An additional 10.5 acres would provide greenways and green pockets on the proposed campus. In total, over 21% of the plan is reserved for permanent open space for community use.


SEE ALSO:



This information can be viewed in a PDF format available here: Neighborhood Council Meeting Questions & Response 2013


RESOURCES



Build Missoula College: Press and Communications

In the News: Press Archive.  Open it.




Build Missoula College: Project Components

A numerical breakdown examining the designated facility spaces and the total square feet assigned to Missoula College.  Review it




Floorplans for Missoula College

The floorplan schematics for the Missoula College facility which provide a unique glimpse into the design of the building.  Review it

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