Home Politics Board of Trustees passes plan to revitalize Ridges during meeting

Board of Trustees passes plan to revitalize Ridges during meeting

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The Ohio University Board of Trustees passed the Ridges Framework Plan during Friday’s meeting in Walter Hall, continuing the university’s plan to revitalize the neglected part of campus.

With the Framework Plan passed, the vision to repurpose most of the area will move onto creating specific plans for the historic buildings, which are “in good shape structurally” and “adaptable for new uses,” according to the Board’s agenda.

Specific ideas that have been passed around between the Board and the Ridges Advisory Committee include exploring ideas to expand access to the Ridges via outdoor recreation, adding a complement to the nearby Ohio University Inn, and utilizing buildings as housing for graduate students as well as faculty and retired members of OU.

Other broad ideas for the Ridges that were highlighted in a presentation from the committee during the Board of Trustees meeting in June included adding restaurants and retail stores as well as converting the “Kirkbride” complex of buildings into office space.

“This was truly a gold standard of what happens with collaboration and patience and giving everyone a chance who wants to be involved to be involved,” Board of Trustees Chairwoman Sandra Anderson said. “The Framework Plan is the next step … in making some dreams come true up with the Ridges property.”

The full extent of the plan may not be seen for years or decades. The presentation from June states that there will be “substantial funding required for significant renovations of existing buildings and infrastructure such as parking and utilities.”

Updates to the Ridges Master Plan started on June 30, 2015, when Gov. John Kasich signed into law changes to the Ridges Advisory Committee. The committee then spent the next year and a half updating the plan from the Ridges section in the 2006 Campus Master Plan. The committee includes mostly community members and leaders, such as Athens City Council President Chris Knisley and Athens County Commissioner Charlie Adkins. Vice President of Finance and Administration Stephen Golding is the chairman and the only member from OU on the committee.

The Board also voted to authorize the sale of the land on which the University Courtyard apartment complex sits on. The complex is currently owned by the non-profit corporation Housing for Ohio Inc., which was created by the Ohio University Foundation. The university leased the ground off of Richland Avenue in 2000 to address a shortage of off-campus housing in the late 1990s.

“Frankly, (it) doesn’t generate enough revenue for the university,” Anderson said during the meeting. “It’s been determined that the property has now served its purpose and may be sold.”

The state-owned land will go through a legal process in the Ohio state government before it is auctioned off in a public bid process. The process is said to be completed by next spring. Housing for Ohio is also said to be looking into selling the complex, according to Anderson.

About ten members of the Ohio University Student Union were present outside of the meeting throughout its duration for a “Welcoming Party,” according to a Facebook event page. With around eight Ohio University Police Department officers present for the meeting, members held signs criticizing the OU administration and Board, at one point singing union anthems that were heard in the meeting room. After the meeting, one OU administrator, who refused to give his name, engaged with half a dozen of the members.

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