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Master planning efforts to collaborate, coordinate moving forward

Two separate but related master planning efforts on the Athens Campus will be more closely linked to one another as their work continues, according to an update from the Ridges Master Plan Committee co-chairs that underscores the importance of such collaboration.

In a recent message to Ridges Master Plan Advisory Committee members, Ridges Master Plan Committee co-chairs Shawna Bolin (director of University Planning and Space Management) and Joseph Shields (dean of the Graduate College and vice president for Research and Creative Activity) explained the need to coordinate with the campus Comprehensive Master Plan project  and to extend The Ridges Master Plan timeline. They wrote:

“During the past two months members of our consulting team from Schooley Caldwell Associates and Brailsford & Dunlavey have invested substantial effort in working through detailed financial scenarios, in accord with our goal of generating, in the end, an implementable plan for The Ridges.  Since the University is not in a position to finance a major renovation effort for the existing buildings, the consultants are looking at scenarios that draw on funding from alternative sources.

Specific funding scenarios are linked in part to programming decisions as to what activities would be housed in renovated buildings.  The University currently has a significant academic presence at The Ridges, and guiding principles for the remaining buildings are that their uses should support the university's academic mission, and represent a positive asset for the community.  Any partnership involving private or for-profit entities will need to be structured in a way to ensure that these guidelines remain in effect into the future.

Decisions about potential academic uses for space at The Ridges are inevitably linked to decisions about space on other parts of the Athens Campus.  To help bring some overall coherence to its planning, the University has recently embarked on an update to its Comprehensive Master Plan.  The nationally recognized firm Ayers Saint Gross has been engaged for this purpose and its representatives are now fully immersed in collecting and reviewing data.  The work by Schooley Caldwell Associates, the Ridges Master Plan Committee, the Ridges Advisory Committee, and local citizens providing their feedback will all be important input to inform the Comprehensive Master Plan process.

To optimize the exchange of information and coordination between the Ridges Master Plan and Comprehensive Master Plan efforts, we anticipate that development of The Ridges Master Plan will extend beyond our original timeline, but with results still emerging in 2015.  While we are eager to move from planning to implementation, we believe that the additional time will help ensure a successful outcome. We want to thank you for your feedback and participation thus far and we look forward to our continued collaboration in the New Year.”

Additional information and updates about The Ridges Master Plan process, as well as the Comprehensive Master Plan process, will be shared with the University community via future Compass articles.

The Ridges Master Plan Advisory Committee is charged with providing feedback and recommendations on the 2014 Ridges Master Plan update. The committee is made up of six members from the University, City of Athens and Athens County.

The Ridges Master Plan Committee is tasked with the work of updating the Ridges Master Plan document. Proposals for the land and buildings have been laid out in several plans, including a Ridges Master Plan drafted in 1989, another study from 2001 and the most recent plan located within the Vision Ohio Master Planning Report.