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CGU holds public forum before moving on master plan

The Claremont Graduate University may already be underway with its 20-year master plan, but school officials are electing to take a step back before continuing the university’s move forward.

CGU administrators held the first of 2 neighborhood meetings this week as the graduate university seeks input from residents prior to taking the next step with environmental consultants. A second open meeting will take place on Monday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Tranquada Student Services Center, 757 College Way.

In late February, the Claremont City Council unanimously approved an agreement with a consultant to move forward with an Environmental Impact Report for the master plan.

“Being at an all-time high it would be testing waters not to continue in that vein,” noted Councilmember Joe Lyons at the February 26 meeting.  

But councilmembers had one stipulation. The plan was approved with the added detail that CGU was “encouraged” to make good on its promise to hold a public review of the plan.

CGU plans to expand enrollment in its masters program while maintaining enrollment in the PhD program. In order to accommodate the growing numbers, administrators want to expand services while also adding a more cohesive look to the currently muddy borders of the CGU campus. To accommodate the project, an additional 200-plus parking spaces and 626,933 gross square feet will be needed, according to orchestrators of the 20-year master plan.

The plan further proposes, among other aspects, to construct a new parking lot between Foothill and Twelfth, build 2 new multi-purpose buildings to replace existing infrastructure within the same area as the new parking structure, construct a 3-story building with 100 new parking spaces, replace the Jagels building, renovate open space between Harper East, McManus and Stauffer Halls to create a commons area and create a “Campus Walk” connecting the various aspects of the campus beginning on Dartmouth and ending on Eighth.  

Additionally, Twelfth Street between College and Dartmouth and Eleventh Street between College and Dartmouth will be privatized.

The council added their recommendation for residents concerned that CGU would not be following its promise to meet with the community on college construction plans. Claremont resident Peter Farquhar vocalized the concern on behalf of other residents in his neighborhood. Mr. Farquhar noted that other institutions of the Claremont Colleges, namely Claremont McKenna College and Harvey Mudd, have followed through in adding residents’ voices to the discussions of proposed expansion plans.

“Even tonight, Pomona College is holding a neighborhood meeting...that’s one of the reasons why more neighbors are not here tonight at this city council meeting,” Mr. Farquhar pointed out to council on February 26.

CGU should be no exception to this process, Mr. Farquhar further asserted.

“I realize there will be opportunities for the public to comment on the scope of the environmental concerns later. What I’m pointing out now is now the absence of any preliminary review of the substance on the proposed master plan possibly sets the public up in an adversarial relationship from the very start with the environmental issues,” Mr. Farquhar said. “It’ll likely involve greater costs and delays and needless efforts and disagreement as we go forward.

“[Public input] is far more likely to produce good results for everyone,” he finished.

The council agreed, and Brian Desatnik, director of community development, added that city administrators had suggested the meetings to CGU from the get- go. It was his impression that they were planning to hold a few, though none had been planned to his knowledge. The city’s hands were tied as the plan had already been deemed complete in December and, once deemed complete, there is only a certain time frame the city has to hire a consultant for the EIR to comply with the Permit Streamlining Act.

“Here, the magic time issue for us is that once that application is deemed complete, then the clock starts to tick,” Ms. Carvalho explained. “The clock has started on us, unfortunately, in this case such that we have to begin this process.”

A month later, CGU is heeding the council’s recommendation.  

“CGU is interested in maintaining positive relationships with the neighbors located adjacent to the campus,” said Steve Garcia, senior vice president for finance and administration at CGU. “We are following through on earlier commitments.”

Feedback at the first meeting primarily centered on parking and traffic flow. CGU officials assured residents of their intention to contract with a traffic engineer to develop a parking study in the hopes of addressing most of the issues raised, according to Mr. Garcia.  

Residents will have a second chance to view a presentation on the 20-year master plan and add their opinions. The final community forum will take place on Monday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Tranquada Student Services Center, 757 College Way.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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