US17/18-14: Withdrawal of North Campus Conditional Use Permit

Date of Notice: February 14, 2018

Current Status: Approved March 14, 2018

Motion Type: Resolution

Sponsors:

●  Greg Bryant, Officer of Research Senator
●  Paul Cziko, Visiting Assistant Research Professor, Biology
●  George Evans, Professor, Economics
●  Dan Gavin, Professor, Geography
●  Lauren Hallet, Assistant Professor, ENVS and Biology
●  David Hulse, Knight Professor of Landscape Architecture
●  Bart Johnson, Professor, Landscape Architecture
●  Pat McDowell, Professor, Geography
●  Terry McQuilkin, Instructor, SOMD, and Classified Staff, UO Libraries, Senator
●  Brook Muller, Professor, Architecture
●  Kari Marie Norgaard, Associate Professor, ENVS and Sociology
●  Eileen Otis, Associate Professor, Sociology
●  Bitty Roy, Professor, Biology


Section I

  1. WHEREAS the University of Oregon has submitted an application for a Conditional UsePermit (CUP) from the City of Eugene that would allow future development of North Campus, including the construction of multiple buildings, roads, and playing fields on the University’s riverfront property located between the railroad tracks and the Willamette River (“the Riverfront”) (Ref. 1); and
  2. WHEREAS the Senate recognizes that the University has pressing need for improvements and developments south of the railroad tracks, but that the proposed facilities north of the tracks are not urgent, being contingent only on possible future increased student enrollment levels; and
  3. WHEREAS the Senate recognizes the special nature of the Riverfront in that, for more than thirty years, the university community has repeatedly opposed various development scenarios for the Riverfront, as demonstrated by three University Senate resolutions, an ASUO Student Senate resolution, and five lawsuits (three involving UO faculty and two involving UO students) (Ref. 2); and
  4. WHEREAS the University of Oregon Mission Statement proclaims that “We value the unique geography, history and culture of Oregon that shapes our identity and spirit. We value our shared charge to steward resources sustainably and responsibly” and also emphasizes the value of scholarship, experiential learning, and public service; and
  5. WHEREAS the University of Oregon Senate, as a partner in shared governance along with the Trustees, the President, the Administration, and the University Committees, is charged with furthering and defending the Mission of the UO, including as it relates to the use of campus real estate; and
  6. WHEREAS despite previous Senate resolutions, the UO administration developed and submitted the current plans for the Riverfront unilaterally, without formal notification, invitation to participate, or consent of the University Senate body–its partner in shared governance; and
  7. WHEREAS the more than 3,500 students and faculty that use the Riverfront annually for research and academic coursework (ranging from the natural sciences to art and sustainable design) will be adversely impacted by the proposed plan and were not consulted during the planning process (Ref. 3); and
  8. WHEREAS despite concerns repeatedly raised by the “Ecology” faculty focus group, including faculty currently using the Riverfront for educational purposes, the administration did not generate any non-playing fields options for consideration by the Campus Planning Committee; and
  9. WHEREAS the University failed to prepare (or make public) a standard cost-benefit analysis on a wide range of Riverfront use scenarios to assist rational decision-making (including assessment of the impacts on habitat, the amenity value to the UO community and the public, and opportunities for research and teaching) (Appendix 1); and
  10. WHEREAS, in the Riverfront, the University possesses a large, unique and valuable educational, ecological, and public asset along the third largest river in the Western US– which is listed as a National Water Trail, designated as one of our nation’s 14 American Heritage Rivers and parts of which are a National Natural Landmark (Ref. 4); and
  11. WHEREAS the University’s Riverfront is a unique and important ecological resource locally, statewide, and nationally, providing habitat (or potential habitat) for rare, recovering, declining, or endangered species of fish, birds, turtles and plants, and is the University’s only natural area (Ref. 5); and
  12. WHEREAS the Senate recognizes that future growth of the student body will increase demand for athletic fields for PE and Rec, club sports, and general student use, and these should be accommodated where they will not compromise or do harm to irreplaceable natural resources and related educational opportunities; and
  13. WHEREAS other notable AAU institutions have made strategic decisions to promote their university brand by restoring and enhancing their natural areas for research, education, and public enjoyment, thereby attracting and retaining faculty, students and staff (Ref. 6); and
  14. WHEREAS it is exceptional for a university to have such an extensive, undeveloped riverfront in close proximity to the center of an urban campus; and
  15. WHEREAS the Senate affirms that the Riverfront presents a unique and irreproducible opportunity to create both an iconic living laboratory for research and academic education, and a public space that demonstrates the University’s dedication to its educational mission, stewardship of natural resources, and a sustainable future (Ref. 7).

Section II

  1. BE IT RESOLVED that the University Senate calls upon the UO administration to withdraw the Riverfront property, north of the tracks, from consideration under the present North Campus CUP application, in order to allow further deliberations among and between the Senate, the Administration and the university community regarding the best use of this property; and
  2. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if the City of Eugene determines that the Riverfront property portion cannot be withdrawn from consideration under the present North Campus CUP application, the Senate requests that the entire CUP application be withdrawn and the North Campus Plan re-envisioned; and
  3. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the University Senate requests that the University of Oregon administration identify areas away from the Riverfront for future playing fields, and study the potential for increased sharing of current athletic fields between the Athletic Program, PE and Rec, and Club Sports; and
  4. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the University Senate moves that any future uses for the Riverfront make use of the unique features of the Willamette river and associated habitats, and should emphasize ecological restoration, nature experience, and academics that are closely aligned with the University’s mission of cultivating transformational leaders through experiential learning and public service, and stewarding its natural resources.

Background, References and Appendix

Slides for Supporting Presentation

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