UM tells neighbors it will work with them to address South Campus concerns

2012-11-14T22:08:00Z 2014-10-03T14:28:22Z UM tells neighbors it will work with them to address South Campus concernsBy MARTIN KIDSTON of the Missoulian
November 14, 2012 10:08 pm  • 

The University of Montana will continue to sharpen its South Campus building plans to meet the concerns of surrounding homeowners, school officials told a roomful of residents Wednesday night.

Addressing roughly 100 people who live in the University District and Lewis and Clark neighborhoods, UM President Royce Engstrom said the school will continue working to be a good neighbor as it fleshes out its South Campus design.

“I really want UM to be viewed as a good neighbor,” Engstrom told a patient audience. “I don’t want that to deteriorate.”

The university’s South Campus, located several blocks from the main campus, is the preferred location for the school’s future growth.

A new Missoula College would be the first academic facility built at the location once funding from the Legislature is secured.

“The South Campus represents the most viable option that we currently have on the table,” Engstrom said. “It represents the best and maybe the only viable option in the long run for the growth of UM.”

Engstrom addressed a series of questions submitted by the neighborhood councils, including those relating to past plans, some of which reach back nearly a decade to another administration.

He addressed a 2002 study that looked at remaining building sites on the main campus, and a 2004 plan that focused on UM property at Fort Missoula.

While some continue to argue that Fort Missoula makes a better location for Missoula Collage, Engstrom said that planners believe otherwise. The concept for a hydrogen futures park at Fort Missoula fizzled when hydrogen flopped as a viable energy source, he added.

“The conclusion of that plan was that the site (Fort Missoula) wasn’t a good location for the College of Technology for a variety of reasons,” Engstrom said. “The university doesn’t own enough suitable land to build what they need.”

As a result, the South Campus emerged as the preferred location. The current master plan was developed by a committee, including members of the surrounding neighborhoods, and was approved by the Board of Regents in 2007.

The Legislature that year appropriated $500,000 to develop a site plan for the South Campus. Engstrom said the results of that plan remain the university’s top proposal, though the final design of the property remains open to community input.

“The South Campus Master Plan is a very comprehensive view of how that land would be developed, and it has served as a guide for future thinking,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we’re done with that plan. In fact, there’s much work to do in terms of traffic and parking and things of that nature.”


Questions submitted by residents covered a variety of topics, including parking and traffic. They asked what role the university would play in mitigating problems related to congestion, and what steps the school and the city would take to ensure property values don't decline as the campus fills in.

Several questions also looked at green space and how the South Campus addresses the need to preserve it. The current plan, officials said, is designed with green space in mind.

Of the 210 acres owned by the university, roughly 21 percent would be dedicated to open space. Officials said the plan includes 35 acres of “high quality” open space with an additional 10 acres of pocketed open space.

The plan also looks at the need for additional student housing. Joined by city officials, Engstrom said UM is in the early stages of looking at public-private partnerships to address overcrowding.

“The South Campus Master Plan does address housing in a significant way,” Engstrom said. “We have also been in discussion with Mayor (John) Engen about public-private partnerships to put in place student housing in and around the area.”

One potential site sits across the Clark Fork River near downtown on eight acres of land near the Montana Technology Enterprise Center. Engstrom said such projects could help relieve rental pressure on the neighborhoods and, if successful, other projects could follow.

“Our street has gone from single family to rentals that house five or more students,” said Shirley Hyndman. “It’s changed the whole flavor of the area. You can walk down the street and just pick out the rentals. Everyone else takes pride in their house, in their yards.”

During a breakout session among residents and other community members, homeowners said housing, parking and congestion were top concerns.

While the South Campus will likely move forward as UM grows with Missoula, residents hope to work closely with school officials in seeking a solution to neighborhood concerns.

“I’m optimistic about the parking, but it’s going to take a lot of extra effort on the university’s part, which we haven’t seen in the last couple decades,” said Dave Chrismon, head of the leadership team for the University District Neighborhood Council.

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or @martinkidston.

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

(16) Comments

  1. Fighting 4 Missoula
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    Fighting 4 Missoula - November 16, 2012 6:42 am
    For the last few years the subject of Agenda 21 has surfaced among Missoulians and citizens across our nation and other countries. Agenda 21 is explained on many websites if searches the internet. For a short explanation, it is a plan by the United Nations started in 1991 at a summit in Rio which focuses on changing the entire planet emphasizing sustainability and city planning. Thre is much ore to it as one will see with a search. One issue Missoulians may remember is when Missoula was ready to pay its ICLIE dues there were quite a few people against it.

    While I was reading the material on Agenda 21 on various websites I began to see the issue of golf courses mentioned fairly often. The proponets of Agenda 21 are against golf courses in general.

    This morning I used the words Agenda 21 and golf course to innitiate a search on these topics. There were many many links to the two.

    It is logical to conclude that Agenda 21 may be playing a bigger role in the COT/golf course issue than we may think.

    We know that President Engstrom just got a global studies program off the ground. There is a connection to a global perspective and the United Nations since that is the main focus of the organization.

    Agenda 21 is also pushing for Smart Growth, which Missoula has been grappling with for years.

    It is my belief that the Agenda 21 philososopy of sustainable development and other idologies associated with it is part of the equation in getting rid of the golf course. One You Tube video presentaion mentions the fact that the Agenda 21 adherents would like to be rid of all golf courses by the year 2050.

    Another aspect of Agenda 21 is to eliminate all dams throughout the world. As we have seen, our Milltown dam is now gone.

    President Engstrom, Pat Williams, and other university officials - please leaave our traditions alone. Please listen to the citizens of Missoula and not a far away political organization and movement - Agenda 21.
  2. MontanaNative1ed7
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    MontanaNative1ed7 - November 15, 2012 4:18 pm
    THERE IS ALREADY A Missoula College at the Fort. It is supposed to be expanded and people paid money for urban planning to be done at the FORT for Missoula College.

    Please do not rewrite history.

    The University of Montana was given land for recreation and open space. NOT TO DEVELOP INTO A PARKING LOT with green stripes.

  3. MontanaNative1ed7
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    MontanaNative1ed7 - November 15, 2012 4:15 pm
    " by green he means the color of money, he is dead on correct. The goal is not to develop a green campus. Green space is just the disingenuous flavor-of-the-day to get folks to agree with a short-sighted and uninspired solution to the future of education" JOE PHILLIPS

    Engstrom is working on his retirement fund. If he can pass this, he can collect.

    EVERYBODY FALL IN LINE so Engstrom who recently moved into his position can improve his retirement fund.

  4. Joe Phillips
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    Joe Phillips - November 15, 2012 2:21 pm
    Why does the Missoulian keep referring to this issue with the keyword and headline: South Campus? Is it a campus?
  5. Joe Phillips
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    Joe Phillips - November 15, 2012 12:10 pm
    I totally agree with you BobbyLee on the importance of Missoula College autonomy. It will lose its effectiveness as it is usurped by the University. Fees fees and more fees will benefit only the people that can afford to attend. Missoula College's autonomy is an important factor for Missoula's success.
  6. Joe Phillips
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    Joe Phillips - November 15, 2012 12:01 pm
    Last nights message from President Engstrom to the neighborhood council lacked any substantive answers. The questions were presented to him a week or so before he addressed the councils. He had ample time to formulate and rehearse his response. Unfortunately and to no surprise, his answers were void of substance but loaded with words. We were told that someone recorded it and will transcribe the dialog, and make it available for public viewing.

    Some points that I found puzzling:

    With all the talk of the UM valuing "Green Space", I find their argument inconsistent. That anyone would propose the destruction of a beautifully developed outdoor recreation area, which people use today for many functions, simply defies their stated valuing of green space. Instead, he is promoting the destruction of the recreation area because the west campus is 4 miles too far from the main campus. I find it quite bold that he can stand in front of an audience and sheepishly look us in the eye and tell us that the South Campus Master plan is a green space.

    If by green he means the color of money, he is dead on correct. The goal is not to develop a green campus. Green space is just the disingenuous flavor-of-the-day to get folks to agree with a short-sighted and uninspired solution to the future of education. Instead, the UM is seeking to use the Missoula College as their golden ticket to usher in more research buildings in order to secure more federal funding for the University of Montana. After all the years of treating the COT like the ugly duckling, I find it disconcerting that the supporters of the South Campus Master Plan would buy into this flawed idea.

    While I am on the subject of research funding; be sure to see President Engstroms answers to the questions of the Congressional allocation of $3.75 million to develop the futures park at the west campus. It never happened. Why? Because the world has not transitioned to a hydrogen economy, said President Engstrom. Well at least they threw a ton of money at it, in the name of research. Why did it fail? I don’t know, but perhaps the parties invested in the futures park never had enough of their own skin in the game. It’s easy to blow other people’s money. But I won’t get too hung up on University fiduciary waste. We all know it happens. Did you know the South Campus Master Plan calls for yet another indoor athletic building?

    The only concrete reason I have been told, that supports the destruction of the developed public recreation area and replaced with a campus full of buildings, is because the Missoula College West Campus is too far to commute between West Campus and Main Campus.
    As a community, are we going to discard a valuable outdoor recreation area for a few miles of possible inconvenience? There is a solution that has not been addressed by the U of M.

    The South Campus Master Plan was developed in 2007. Do you remember what your cell phone looked like in 2007? It was probably a flip phone. Maybe even an old brick Nokia. Now you probably have an incredibly sophisticated personal computer in your pocket. Thanks to all the sensors and radio chips, that little computer in your pocket will do things your laptop computer cannot perform. You probably paid about $200 + $90 a month. It brings you information at the drop of a hat. That little gizmo has probably replaced at least four of your other electronics.

    The solution to our problem, folks, is innovation.

    That innovation is occurring right now in academia all around the world. It is commonly referred to as distance learning, or online classes. If you think distance learning is a lofty and failed venture, like UM’s hydrogen research project was, then you are mistaken. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education published a report called Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning. In the abstract of the report you will find the following statement: “The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.” The report continues to explain its findings. That was published in 2009. Much innovation in distance learning has happened since that time.

    I know some folks that are unfamiliar with distance learning concepts may struggle with seeing the value in it. Distance learning has tremendous value to our higher education system, and our society at large. Distance learning does not rely on locality and time of day. Freedom from time and space is truly liberating. Families do not need to be split apart in order to learn. Distance learning offers a world of educational engagement and community to otherwise disenfranchised people. Consider the opportunity distance learning offers folks with sever disabilities. Distance learning has the potential to help level the playing field. The majority of students in distance learning classes that I have participated in are women, predominantly mothers.

    Often times, people unfamiliar with distance learning see it as an awkward learning method that removes the learner from engagement with classmates. That is not the case. Internet video is getting more popular and stable than it has ever been. But a quality education does not need to rely solely on distance learning. A blended experience of face-to-face and distance learning is proving to be highly efficient as well as effective. The old system of congregating in buildings together in silence is not necessary for every class or lesson. A finely organized education system should factor in time/space management of its facilities in accordance with its student population. There are brilliant innovations in software development that are catering to just such a need. Let’s quit thinking of education as congregating in physical domains the way we always have been.

    Why is it that the student must shuttle themselves down to the west campus? It seems that relocating one person is more efficient than relocating 30 people. With that in mind, what about an instructor performing classes remotely from the main campus and telecommuting into the congregated students on the west campus? If we continue believing educations must only be distributed in static buildings, then we will one day truly run out of open space in the Missoula valley.

    Despite the University’s assertion that the South Campus Master plan is a 100 year plan, it is not masterful. It is short-sighted, if not no-sighted. I would prefer our higher education system be guided by leaders, but because they are merely followers, I wish they would follow the lead of institutions that are aggressively pursuing innovative educational methods like MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Axia, UIW, and numerous cutting edge online educators like Khan Academy, and Udacity.

    In 100 years in the future, i see no reason why the city of Missoula cannot have both. We can have a world class, unified Missoula College at the West Campus, and maintain to have a highly valued outdoor recreation area exactly where it is today. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

    If the world of information exchange has shifted so rapidly in 5 years, as it has, imagine what will happen in 100 years. Through innovative blends of distance learning and face-to-face learning we have the ability to more efficiently educate even more minds than ever. Those minds will then, one day, dream up their own creations. You want to talk about research? Let’s unleash the power of every individual that craves an education and really see what happens in the area of research.
  7. GnarwhalExtract
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    GnarwhalExtract - November 15, 2012 11:04 am
    I live in the South University area and I am very concerned. We need to be given residential parking pass status - meaning no parking in our neighborhood without a pass - just like the blocks surrounding the U. It would be good start.
  8. JSRMinMissoula
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    JSRMinMissoula - November 15, 2012 9:56 am
    Good point. What are they going to do about the industrial technologies at the western campus? Are they going to be the next red headed step child? Perhaps. My suggestion if it's already a go, is to boycott the University in regards to community events or fundraising functions. Some may be appalled by this suggestion, so what? UM has done mighty fine job of alienating students, women, local businessses, and Missoulians.
  9. Zula man
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    Zula man - November 15, 2012 9:31 am
    This is a done deal, the U is just working to smooth things over as much as possible. Engstrom will never please the folks opposed to this, another indication that he's a well-intentioned sort who just doesn't get the communications part of the job. Better to say: Sorry that some folks object to this, but UM has determined it's necessary and we'll do our best to remain good neighbors."
  10. Roger
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    Roger - November 15, 2012 8:36 am
    I feel for the people who live anywhere near the "south campus" - obviously their quality of life will take a nosedive. Engstrom's “I really want UM to be viewed as a good neighbor,” rings hollow. In reality he couldn't care less.
  11. JSRMinMissoula
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    JSRMinMissoula - November 15, 2012 8:31 am
    Bad neighbor UM, bad neighbor Engstrom. Now sit, good dogs. Missoula and Montana you can make them do this, if you wish. Don't let the tale wag the dog. And that's exactly what's happening here.
  12. BobbyLee
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    BobbyLee - November 15, 2012 8:04 am
    In modern political double-speak "work with them" actually means 'we can and shall do what we want and you will have to put up with it.'

    Once it becomes about money, common sense and community obligations go right out the window. And this was always about money. Students should be very worried about this amalgamation (and not just COT students), because fees will rise along with the inexorable rise in administration. COT will then get several more layers of useless academic managers, some of whom will need high salaries to compete with Engstom and his creche. HR will need to be expanded (since they're already known as being incompetent), as will the Lucy France empire, to protect the university from truth.

    Once a COT loses independence, costs rise and students lose out. Anyone thinking otherwise only needs to look around the country to see where this has happened before. My college was amalgamated with Durham University, until it failed due to skyrocketing administration and costs, leaving the community with nothing. But the politically active students in this town seem to be too thick to understand basic common sense, too concerned about fighting for freebie entitlements, rather than something that affects them directly.

    Oh, that's right, it doesn't affect them, they'll all be long gone by then. The result of their actions will be someone else's burden, someone else's costs to bear - and costs there will be, by the barrow full.

    Diversity, UofM style: count the number of men working for HR. Someone recently told me it was zero.
  13. MontanaNative1ed7
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    MontanaNative1ed7 - November 15, 2012 6:23 am
    Would the Missoulian please do an article on the already existing Missoula College programs which are at the Fort Missoula Campus? (That would be Welding and Auto Mechanics). Please interview these program directors and students. They exist. Engstrom either is confused or is re-writing history to omit what he wants to ignore.
  14. Mtsleep
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    Mtsleep - November 15, 2012 2:35 am
    Are they kidding about getting a handle on parking? They haven't even been able to coming close to an acceptable parking situation on the main campus. With the new college they will do the same - sell 3x more permits than spaces. I really think UM needs to solve some problems on the main campus before creating more on another.
  15. MontanaNative1ed7
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    MontanaNative1ed7 - November 15, 2012 12:49 am
    Reasons Engstrom sounds confused:

    1) Missoula College needs autonomy, therefore the Fort location makes more sense for expansion. The closer Missoula College is to U of M, the less autonomy for the College to develop an identity of it's own.
    2) University home owners will feel the lack of urban planning as the homes become obstacles around which students walk and park in between campus.
    3) The Fort Missoula location already has a Missoula College auto mechanics program and a welding program. The Fort was intended as the best place for Missoula College to expand. Two programs already exist at this location. More should be added.
    4) The golf course was a land donation which was given with the intent to provide open space and leisure.
    5) Missoula College has grown and has become a profit center for U of M. Missoula College needs to be its own center, not an extension of U of M.
  16. 70seebs
    Report Abuse
    70seebs - November 14, 2012 10:57 pm
    Another huge controversy! I can't wait for everyone to weigh in on this 'must fight' issue.
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