Controversial parts of Master Plan removed

Presentation hits on use of McConnell, new arts center

By Susan Doucet
On October 19, 2012

The Campus Master Plan that drew criticism from students, faculty and Durham residents last spring was again presented to the public Thursday afternoon. Concerns addressed at the spring's open forums were seemingly taken into consideration in this final, updated plan.

Some of the major proposals in the Master Plan that people took issue with at the previous open forums related to plans for the equine facilities and university land. At Thursday's public informational presentation, Ellen Watts addressed the crowd in the Huddleston Hall Ballroom and said that as preferred by those in the program, the equine facilities would "remain in its current location." Watts also said that the agricultural lands "will remain just as they are."

The Campus Master Plan Update has been ongoing since fall of 2011. According to the program's website, the plan is "a blueprint for the future. It is a comprehensive long-range document intended to guide incremental campus development for the next 10 to 20 years."

"It's a template, not an action plan," said John Aber, provost and vice president of academic affairs.

The Master Plan includes 56 potential projects, which are divided into four categories: Priority Projects, Additional Identified Needs, Future Placeholders, and Possible Surplus.

Some of the major projects discussed at the presentation were the future of the outdoor pool, which was built in 1938; a new Center for the Arts; graduate housing site options; transportation and parking; McConnell reuse; and public-private ventures.

The ongoing process is reaching its end; the plan is scheduled to be presented to President Mark Huddleston in November. After the recommendation is made to Huddleston, the Campus Master Plan Update will be presented to the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees for approval, according to the project's website.

Aber said that this final plan was "very different from what had been put forward at one point last year."

"(The plan is) a result of a yearlong process ... (with) a high level of participation from the community," Aber said.

At the end of Thursday's presentation, attendees were given the opportunity to speak, and were told that comments received within the next week would possibly be taken into consideration in the presentation to the university president. Students and Durham residents took to the floor to ask questions and express concerns regarding the plan.

UNH English student Amy Dufrane expressed concern about the future upgrade of Hamilton Smith Hall, and as to whether the upgrade would make the building handicap-accessible. Members of the Master Plan committee said that the upgrade would be a full renovation of the building, including a full Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrade.

The plan also proposes for McConnell Hall to become a swing-space location while other buildings are renovated.

Multiple Durham residents spoke about the future of the outdoor pool, contesting its importance to the community.

Carol Glover, a Durham resident, described herself as a long-time user of the outdoor pool and said that she had thought of "options that do not involve destroying a historic pool."

"It doesn't need to be an orphaned child anymore," she said. "Let's upgrade something that really has meaning."

The Final Draft of the Campus Master Plan can be found at

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