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PARK PLACE PLANNING STRATEGY

A planning study for highest and best use of interior and exterior open space along South Court Street and Park Place areas

 

Background

The Park Place Planning Strategy is a University-led planning process to identify the highest and best use of space in the center of campus in order to promote and support student activities. The University is committed to engaging in a process with community members, faculty, staff, and students to prioritize interior and exterior programmatic needs and to develop a strategy with the City of Athens to implement the goal of creating a student commons corridor.

Increases in student pedestrian patterns observed over the past ten years at Park Place present an opportunity to improve not only open spaces in the campus center, but also to improve the efficiency of space usage in facilities that front the boulevard. These observations are supported by the recent Comprehensive Master Plan 2016 effort, which envisions the Park Place corridor as a center of student activity. The Park Place Planning Strategy will test these ideas and provide recommendations in 2017.

 

Context

  •  Park Place Street and several underground utilities are owned and maintained by the City ofAthens.
  • The Baker University Center was completed in 2006, replacing the former Baker Center that was located along Union Street, which is now the home of the Scripps Center for Communication.

  • Relocation of Baker University Center, including the construction of an escalator system that connects lower areas of campus to College Green and Court Street, moved pedestrian volumes from Union Street to Park Place, significantly increasing the numbers of students moving east and west along the boulevard as well as north and south between Baker Center and Court Street.

  • In March of 2014, the Ohio University Board of Trustees approved a resolution to study the Park Place Student Commons concept, in order to better understand needs of students programmatically and from a safety perspective along the travel corridor.

  • As part of the Comprehensive Master Plan 2016 process, the University explored conceptual elements along Park Place that would improve student safety, activate the space for programmatic and recreation needs, and improve space usage for those facilities bordering the boulevard.

  • To encourage vitality throughout College Green, the Comprehensive Master Plan 2016 recommends a partnership with the City of Athens for a Park Place renovation that emphasizes expanding outdoor activity and improving the safety of key pedestrian crossings between Baker University Center and Alden Library.

  • The City of Athens and community were engaged throughout the Master Plan process.

  • The FY17-FY22 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) earmarked capital dollars for investment into interior and exterior improvements along the corridor.

  • The University began discussions with the City of Athens and separately the Board of Trustees regarding the need to take the CMP concept to a more detailed study level.

  • In Fall of 2016, President McDavis appointed a work group to facilitate and lead the planning strategy. 

  • The Park Place Planning Work Group is charged with recommending the highest and best use of space needs that will promote and support student activities in the center of campus.