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OSU President David Schmidly Recommends Additional Dialogue on Master Plan

Monday, November 28, 2005

Stillwater, OK -- With new construction for academic and athletic facilities expected to approach $500 million on the Oklahoma State University campus over the next decade, OSU System CEO and President David Schmidly said additional dialogue is needed to adequately address matters raised during recent community meetings with owners of property north of the football stadium where plans call for construction of a first-class athletic village.  

As a result, Schmidly said the university will postpone presenting the campus master plan to the OSU/A&M Regents until January to allow more time to work with the City of Stillwater, citizens and other constituents to address concerns and clearly layout the vision.  

“The $500 million in anticipated new construction for academic and athletic facilities over the next decade rivals in scope and magnitude the successful MAPS program in Oklahoma City and the Vision 2025 program in Tulsa,” Schmidly said.  

“The economic impact to Stillwater would be unparalleled in the history of this city in our opinion and the benefits to OSU in having the absolute finest research and learning facilities as well as athletic facilities would be transforming in moving OSU into the top 75 public institutions in the United States. That said, however, the sheer size and long-range nature of the overall project dictates we should move in a thoughtful manner,” he continued.

  “While we have held more than 50 meetings over the past eight months to gather input and discuss the master plan, additional time to listen and respond will be helpful. There’s been some misinformation and we want to clear it up as we go forward,” Schmidly said.  

“We must do everything we can to make sure everyone understands the master plan and also OSU’s plans, particularly at this point when the OSU Foundation has begun a careful process to purchase property on a voluntary basis for future expansion north of the stadium,” he added.  

Schmidly said the build-out for a new athletic village will occur in two phases – a near-term plan over the next three to five years and a long-term plan.   The near-term plan encompasses the area north of Hall of Fame Avenue and south of McElroy Street and between Duck and Washington Streets.  

The long-term area is north of McElroy to Eskridge Street and between Duck and Washington Streets; as well as the area south of McElroy and between Washington and Monroe Streets.

“Our first priority is the area south of McElroy and east of Washington Street, which would meet our near-term needs to improve our women’s facilities, as well as build an indoor facility for football, baseball, track and other sports,” said Schmidly.

“The plan is long range and will require time to lay the groundwork to move forward with implementation,” Schmidly said. “We have limited dollars to purchase property and while we may not need the land in the long-term area for a number of years, we certainly want to discuss a purchase with anyone in that area who is interested.

“Our athletic village, which will be built solely with private dollars, will be nothing short of spectacular and will provide Stillwater, OSU and the State of Oklahoma with a strong economic engine,” he said.

More than 80 percent of the property in the purchase area is rental property. Officials at the OSU Foundation reported that about 100 property owners initially signed up for voluntary appraisals and additional owners are signing up on a regular basis. Foundation officials said they already have a significant portion of the land in the near-term area south of McElroy and east of Washington under contract to purchase.

In commenting about the potential use of eminent domain to acquire property Schmidly said, “We prefer not to purchase land that way. It is always an option, but we want to work with property owners, listen and address their needs, and, most importantly, make sure they receive a fair price for their property. We will be particularly sensitive to owner-occupied homes. Owner-occupied residents deserve nothing less in my opinion.”

In addition, concerns have been expressed at recent meetings about the future of Hall of Fame Avenue, a major east and west artery. The street will most likely remain closed north of Boone Pickens Stadium until the construction in and around the stadium has been completed. The university will work with the city to address the long-term future of Hall of Fame as well as other options for east-west traffic.

“We have considered a number of options as it relates to traffic flow around and through the campus during the development of the master plan,” Schmidly said. “We all agree on the need for an efficient and safe traffic and pedestrian system developed in the best long-term interest of OSU and Stillwater.”

Schmidly expressed appreciation to the City of Stillwater and Stillwater Public Schools for their willingness to work with OSU. “Everyone recognizes OSU is an invaluable community asset to Stillwater and annually its athletic program pumps more than $32 million into the local economy. We must recognize Stillwater is a valuable community asset to OSU and it behooves us to work collaboratively to build not only a great university but also a great city. I would not like to imagine where OSU would be without Stillwater and where Stillwater would be without OSU.”

Schmidly and Mike Holder, OSU’s vice president for athletics, will be on hand to discuss OSU’s plans at a public meeting organized by the city Tuesday night at the library.

While the property purchase for the athletic village is currently in focus, the first projects as part of the master plan will be the construction of an inter-modal transportation complex near Hall of Fame Avenue and Monroe Street, and a $70 million dollar advanced science, research and teaching building for academics.
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