UM

Critics of UM South Campus building plans question process

2012-11-06T06:15:00Z 2014-10-03T14:28:22Z Critics of UM South Campus building plans question processBy MARTIN KIDSTON of the Missoulian missoulian.com
November 06, 2012 6:15 am  • 

Critics of the University of Montana’s plans to build on the South Campus, starting with a new Missoula College, rallied on Monday night in hopes of growing their grassroots opposition to block the plans.

With roughly 55 people in attendance, members of the group — Advocates for Missoula’s Future — described the South Campus and the University Golf Course as Missoula’s version of New York City’s Central Park.

Throughout the evening, they challenged the five-year process that led to the South Campus emerging as the state’s preferred location for future UM expansion. They also questioned how Missoula College became the first academic building planned for the 240-acre site.

“This is like the city of New York allowing some developer to put up buildings in Central Park,” Michael Wangen told the room. “I can’t believe our campus leaders would take this position, because it’s actually defiant to good design.”

Members of the group criticized UM’s South Campus plans as a mid-20th century design, saying it failed to address traffic, parking, noise, pollution or the impact on surrounding neighborhoods, among other things.

They handed out six different form letters to attendees and asked them to sign them for delivery to the Board of Regents, which meets for its monthly meeting in Missoula Thursday and Friday, Nov. 15 and 16.

Sally Peterson said the state should develop Missoula College on what’s known as the West Campus, located roughly 3 1/2 miles from UM and the South Campus at Fort Missoula.

Advocates for Missoula’s Future suggests the West Campus site is better suited to handle the mission of a two-year school, even if it’s located across the city.

They didn’t address the mission of Montana’s two-year colleges, which, by design, are sharing programs with four-year schools to expedite the acquisition of a degree. It’s a major factor in the state’s push to place Missoula College on the South Campus, officials have said.

***

During the meeting, Peterson shared her own vision of a West Campus design with the room, along with her desire to see the South Campus preserved. She presented idyllic pictures of fall colors emerging on the grassy fairways of the University Golf Course and discussed her love for the area.

“There’s a feeling about this land, which can’t be put into dollars, though it’s worth millions,” said Peterson. “We feel there’s complex layers to this, and we wanted to simplify it with an overview here tonight.”

Those who presented throughout the evening said multiple times that their push to preserve the South Campus wasn’t about golf but rather about preserving open space. At the same time, they also handed out pink bumper stickers saying “Save UM Golf Course.”

“This entire (South Campus plan) was rushed to completion,” said Ian Lange, who presented a history of how the South Campus became the preferred location. “The planning group itself was skewed. The most affected people had the least amount of input.”

Of the 20 committee members who created the South Campus Master Plan, four represented surrounding neighborhoods, including the University District and Lewis and Clark neighborhood.

Despite that representation, group members called the planning process a sham, saying committee members had no input.

They also suggested that Pat Williams, Missoula’s representative on the Board of Regents, had a conflict of interest on the issue since his wife, Carol Williams, serves as a state legislator.

“Do you know what Pat Williams’ position on this is?” one man asked the room.

“He said he needs to do what’s best for the university and the students,” answered Advocates member Keith Koprivica, who said he spoke to Williams. “I reminded him that doing what’s best for the university includes being a good neighbor.”

Wangen called Williams’ alleged answer a “cop-out.”

“He’s our only hope on this group of basically outsiders from around Montana,” Wangen said, referring to the Board of Regents.

Advocates also handed out fliers stating that the South Campus plan was “wrong for students, wrong for the community and wrong for the university.”

Few, if any, students attended the meeting. Over the past few weeks, many students have said they would prefer placing Missoula College on the South Campus, due to is location near UM and downtown.

While much of the presentation was a rehashing of information that has circulated for months, Lange told the crowd that the state has yet to answer several key questions.

Among them, he asked what happened to roughly $24 million in authorized funding to build a Futures Park on the West Campus.

“We’ve never been able to find out why Futures Park at Fort Missoula was terminated, how much federal money was received, and if it was received, where did it go?” he said.

The group will meet again Thursday at 5 p.m. at Sentinel High School.

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, martin.kidston@missoulian.com or @martinkidston.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. TwiceGriz
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    TwiceGriz - November 06, 2012 1:39 pm
    The "process" for the South Campus Master Plan appointed a committee in December of 2006 and their report was published in July of 2007 - seven months to be exact - and with NO discussion regarding COT in that plan. Conversely, the COT/Futures Park plan (also done by the University) went on for eight years, studied 7 alternative sites throughout Missoula for the COT expansion, had 76 committee members and concluded that the West Campus is the best site for the COT (now Missoula College). BTW they rejected the golf course location because they wanted a consolidation of COT campuses in one place and the heavy equipment and other programs at the West Campus could not be moved and because the University area of town is already too congested with traffic. The community spoke very loudly, clearly and inclusively in 2004 with the committees' recommendation of the West Campus. (And BTW a LOT of taxpayer money was used studying this). Why should the community of Missoula change its collective mind now? NO compelling reason has been given by the University for the community to change its collective will about where to expand and consolidate the Missoula College.
  2. anonymous201288
    Report Abuse
    anonymous201288 - November 06, 2012 12:21 pm
    Since there always seem to be more Time than Money, Why not slow down, and also see how the economy is going to peak out. There is nothing that is Life Threatening i, So calming down and come to some agreements might be beneficial to ALL. Stop acting like a bunch of spoiled kids.
  3. Matthew Koehler
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    Matthew Koehler - November 06, 2012 11:30 am
    Also, instead of razing the historic UM Golf Course (and displacing all the activities that currently take place at that site) couldn't the current COT location be redeveloped and some of the buildings retrofitted to accommodate future growth?

    I mean, aren't all of the buildings at the current COT only one story? Well, no wonder they are running out of room. Instead of building out and gobbling up more open space at the current UM Golf Course couldn't we spend our taxpayer dollars redeveloping the current COT location so that the buildings are 4 to 6 stories high? Has anyone at UM looked into this?

    I also believe the Fort Missoula location makes some sense. If we aren't going to be building a Bitterroot College anytime soon, the Fort Missoula location is about the most convenient place for people driving down from the Bitterroot, or Lake County for that matter.

    As far the those who claim the UM has been completely open and honest about this process, has everyone entirely forgotten what's transpired with UM's administration over the past year? Let's see.....UM's wood-burning biomass plant fiasco (a proposed $25 million taxpayer money pit if ever there was one). And the whole disgraceful handling of the sexual assaults by the UM administration? I'm just waiting for UM's VP of Finance to claim that "Advocates for Missoula’s Future" are using "eco-terrorism tactics."

  4. Zula man
    Report Abuse
    Zula man - November 06, 2012 10:37 am
    It's spelled "Carol" Williams. Also, she's termed out. And, you're going to report a conversation like this and not ask either of the Williams for comment?
  5. Tronski
    Report Abuse
    Tronski - November 06, 2012 10:27 am
    let me get this straight...these people are opposing the south campus in the name of 'open space', however it seems to me that putting it out at Fort Missoula would just encourage 'urban sprawl', which is the best way destroy open space. the golf course is the best spot for the college to build, and I'm sure there will still be some open areas within the campus, just look at the existing campus, lots of open spaces for all to enjoy.
  6. Waltzing Matilda
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    Waltzing Matilda - November 06, 2012 10:25 am
    There was an eight year process form 1996 to 2004 that studied seven possible locations including the South Campus (golf course and athletic fields) and the West Campus (near Fort Missoula) for a new COT. This process included 76 people and 13 committees.

    In the end, after 8 years of studies, the West Campus near Fort Missoula was identified as the as the prefered location for the COT (Missoula College)..
  7. mcmyas
    Report Abuse
    mcmyas - November 06, 2012 10:07 am
    so its called south park? haha just build it there 55 out of like 100k dont want it there what a joke
  8. ekim
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    ekim - November 06, 2012 9:54 am
    I find the critics positions somewhat absurd and typical NIMBY stuff. The University's rationale for building on the South campus makes a lot of sense. There is a vast expanse of open space right above the South campus called Mount Sentinel. Last couple times I drove by Larchmont, the course was nearly empty. Build the college at the South Campus. I t makes the most sense. My only gripe is the name. Missoula College? Really? Isn't technology all the rage?
  9. familytruckster
    Report Abuse
    familytruckster - November 06, 2012 9:12 am
    The south campus area is already ridiculously congested, and adding the density that another college campus would bring would just amplify that problem.
  10. sportscaster
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    sportscaster - November 05, 2012 9:40 pm
    There was nothing wrong with the process. There was as much public input sought and taken on this "issue" as there needed to be and probably more. It's a typical case of people not getting their way saying they weren't given a chance to provide input. The Missoula College building needs to be on the South Campus and the golf course at the West Campus. It would make for a better educational setup for UM and the College and make it possible to have an 18-hole course out west.
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