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September 3, 2003

University Seeking Input On Master Plan

The University is seeking faculty, staff, and student input in updating the master plan for the Storrs campus and creating a master plan for the Greater Hartford campus to prepare for 21st Century UConn and to reflect the changes at the University since UConn 2000 began in 1995.

To assist in the process, the Master Plan Committee will again use the expertise of Johnson, Johnson and Roy of Ann Arbor, Mich., the consulting firm that helped the University create a master plan for the main campus in 1997. Now known as SmithGroup JJR, the firm will make recommendations about open space, space that should be used for development, pedestrian and vehicular traffic patterns, and ways to optimize the use of classroom space.

"We are relying on faculty, staff, student, and community input so that the updated plan can spell out what is working well, what we need to improve, and what issues we need to anticipate as we begin the 11-year, 21st Century UConn program," says Karla Fox, associate vice president and co-chair of the Master Plan Advisory Committee. "The University has experienced tremendous change in its facilities during UConn 2000. We now have the opportunity to pause and analyze what should come next, before 21st Century UConn begins next summer."

The updated plan is expected to be completed in spring 2004. The 21st Century UConn program, which will fund $1.3 billion in infrastructure improvements, begins in July 2004 and overlaps the last year of UConn 2000. The $1 billion UConn 2000 program to renew, rebuild and enhance the campuses did not include the Health Center; 21st Century UConn does.

To gain input, three public meetings are planned this month:

  • Sept. 9 in the gallery area on the first floor of the Homer Babbidge Library, starting at 4:30 p.m., planners will solicit ideas from the community regarding the core campus.
  • Sept. 10 at 6 p.m., the group will conduct a similar meeting at the West Hartford campus to develop a plan for that campus; and
  • Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. in Room 7 of the Bishop Center, planners will elicit ideas about open space and farmland preservation on the east side of Route 195.

The master plan update will include both plans for development of the campus and plans to maintain open space and farmland. Generally, the University's plans call for development west of Route 195 and open space east of Route 195. At the hearing, students, faculty, staff, and community members will have a chance to comment.

Both State Sen. Donald Williams (D-Danielson) and State Rep. Denise Merrill (D-Mansfield) have encouraged the University to formally identify East Campus land that would be maintained as open space or farmland as part of the master plan.

There are no plans for new building projects on East Campus as part of 21st Century UConn. Renovations and additions to existing facilities are anticipated, however.

One key to the updated master plan, says Fox, will be the recommendatio ns regarding how to more efficiently use classroom space on campus, and how much new space is needed to accommodate UConn's student body. The plan will also make projections about dealing with increased enrollment. "The study is really a prelude to implementing the Academic Plan," she says.

The University has master plans for several campuses. The UConn Health Center's master plan was completed in November 2002 with the assistance of Flad and Associates, a design firm with offices in Stamford and Madison, Wis. One of the plan's main recommendations was the adoption of campus development zones, defined areas that are most appropriate for designated uses.

An outgrowth of the plan was the establishment of a space management committee, which centralizes decision-making and allocates and assigns space, based on analysis and strategic plan priorities.

The master plans for the Health Center, and the Storrs and Greater Hartford campuses will provide the guide for 21st Century UConn initiatives.

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