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University keeps neighbors in mind when making changes on campus

Pacific University is committed to thoughtful, sustainable and neighborly growth in the Forest Grove community, as well as through our campuses and offices in Hillsboro, Eugene and Portland.

In Forest Grove, planning for growth of our historic campus starts with a master plan. This document, originally approved by the City of Forest Grove in 2005, provides a framework for our standards in signage, landscape and facilities, as well as a scope for our growth. It identifies different regions of campus, as well as potential uses for those regions: where we might place new student housing or science classrooms, as an example.

The master plan also facilitates a close working relationship with the City of Forest Grove, where we can grow together, vision for the future together and work collaboratively without overwhelming the government processes in our tight-knit community.

Some elements of our 2005 master plan already have come to fruition. The Lincoln Park Athletic Complex has been a successful partnership with our city and was part of the original plan. It was ultimately completed in 2008, creating a significant attraction for our students and community members alike.

Sometimes, however, opportunities arise that we didn't necessarily imagine in 2005. Recently, two such opportunities have come to the forefront, and the university has submitted an amendment to our master plan to the City of Forest Grove Planning Commission.

Recognizing that this amendment may have sparked some questions among our neighbors, we want to explain our current endeavors.

The first opportunity is for a new student health and counseling center, tentatively slated to be built on existing university property on the west side of College Way. We already own an empty lot along that street amid our other office buildings, and the potential new facility would allow the student health center to move from leased property to university-owned property. It is ultimately more fiscally responsible for the university, as well as more convenient for our students accessing these important services.

Simultaneously, the university recently purchased just over two acres on Sunset Drive, near the Forest Grove Aquatic Center and the Lincoln Park Athletic Complex. This once-residential property came up for sale by private owners, and the university purchased this land from willing homeowners to expand our adjacent property. (This, along with situations such as trusts or donations, is how the university acquires residential property; the university has no legal authority via eminent domain.)

Due to the condition of the existing structures on the land, we recycled all appliances and hardware and applied for a local live fire training permit.

The structures were burned as an educational training exercise for local emergency responders - an exercise designed to ultimately help us all be safer.

The land, long-term, may provide appropriate space for new student housing. In the short-term, however, we have proposed using it as a new home for our maintenance and facilities department (also currently housed in leased property on Cedar Street), as well as for potential storage.

Any use of this new property, or of the property currently housing the facilities department, will be mindful of the fact that Sunset Drive and Cedar Street continue to feature residential homes. We will honor our existing standards, such as building height, to ensure that our facilities "fit in" to the neighborhood. That, too, is part of our master plan.

We at Pacific University enjoy the relationship we have with the City of Forest Grove and its residents. Many of our students, staff and faculty live, work and serve in this community, and we welcome local residents to campus to take advantage of the green spaces and campus facilities.

We look forward to working closely with the city as we move into the future, respecting the history of our community and moving, sustainably, into the future as good neighbors.

Mike Mallery is Pacific University's vice president for finance and administration.




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