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Next Phase of Master Plan Ready for Public Comment

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MSU campus planner Steve Troost examines an open space framework map used in considering future development. Photo: Scott Pohl/WKAR

By Scott Pohl, WKAR News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wkar/local-wkar-986126.mp3

EAST LANSING, MI –
At the beginning of the new century, Michigan State University developed an extensive master plan. "2020 Vision: A Community Concept for the MSU Campus," looks to the future of campus buildings, roadways, pedestrian and bicycle routes, parking, and open space.

The plan is revised every five years, and the latest revision is underway now.

Public forums to discuss the plan are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. September 15th and 16th in the Spartan Rooms of the International Center.

WKAR's Scott Pohl spoke with MSU campus planner Steve Troost, who says a lot can change during those five-year intervals. His first example is the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), which wasn't on the radar during the last revision.

STEVE TROOST: [FRIB] coming on campus has had a ripple effect, not only to building organization and open space, but roadways. We're looking at, for example, impacts to Bogue Street. And if we do make modifications to Bogue Street, then what's the ripple effect to the Shaw traffic circle at Bogue Street? We've got also to be compliant with ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] 2010 regulations there.

The art museum coming to campus is another one. A lot of thought was given to the location for an art museum on campus, and I'm excited about that site on the edge of campus, as a bridge between town and gown. I think it's going to be a fabulous thing, but it also had impacts to East Circle Drive and the Collingwood entrance, which is now Farm Lane.

And then, you look at all of the investment that Residential and Hospitality Services has put into campus, and their signature dining halls. The Brody, Brody Square, it's huge in terms of what it has done. All of a sudden, you've got new gravitational pulls on campus, bringing people together, which is fabulous, but it does then have an impact on parking, on bus service and schedules for things like that.

Accounting for walkers, bicyclists

SCOTT POHL: To what degree are pedestrian pathways and paths for bicycles in a plan of this sort?

TROOST: Just this past year, Associate Vice President Kathy Lindahl asked us to do a non-motorized plan, to look five years out and to prioritize what projects might be coming at us that could help the non-motorized system on campus. The university was awarded a bronze bicycle friendly award from the League of American Bicyclists. Over 50% of our roadways now have bike lanes on them. We're looking at trying to set up a suite of options that will encourage people to leave their cars at home.

POHL: It's my understanding that you'll also be considering the Red Cedar River watershed and water-related issues this year. Is that new, and what can the master plan do to address issues related to the watershed here?

TROOST: If you do walk the Red Cedar River corridor, you'll notice that the banks are eroding. You'll notice that some of the drain inlets far out into the riverbank, as over time the bank has eroded back. We need to reinvest in the river. It's iconic. It's part of our lore. We have found a way to engage the stormwater regulations in our new permit process into the master plan. So, for example, we've got certain land reservations that we're holding back, in case we need to go to a regional approach to handle our stormwater. As a landowner of 5,000 acres, the DNR [Michigan Department of Natural Resources] has allowed us to take an alternative approach to our stormwater permit, for building in our urban or developed part of campus, like the art museum. Very little land there to do anything for stormwater, but we need to still do something.

North Campus parking an issue

TROOST: And, we've also got a challenge coming up on the north academic district regarding parking. The Bessey Hall parking ramp has got a few years left, and it's going to need to be either rebuilt or put in a different location, and if you follow the campus planning principals, it says let's move more of our parking to the perimeter. Not all of it, but more of it. And so, with that parking garage coming of age, it might be time to look at possibly the State Police post, or using our commuter lot a little bit more efficiently. It needs to come with shuttle services and other things to move the people appropriately, but then you'd be able to reconvert that parcel of land right along the river back to flood plain.

POHL: What time frame are you working within for drafting this plan, issuing this plan? How much time do you have?

TROOST: The process for this update actually began in November of last year, with the Board of Trustees. We've had a set of spring forums where we had public open houses, and obtained a lot of public input and comment then. We've been working on the plan through the summer, so now what we're doing here in the fall is bringing together the recommendations in their draft format, and now allowing the public and others to comment on what they're seeing. We are due then back to the Board of Trustees for a work session in October, and then in December, hopefully, they'll take favorable action on the plan.

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