The Municipality of Anchorage, or MOA, recently held round-table discussions for community members interested in the long-term planning and changes being made to the University-Medical District. The state-funded project includes district plan updates, implementation recommendations, transportation and parking utilization, a co-generation feasibility study and public outreach.
Parking, or the lack of parking, has been a continual issue for UAA students. Karen Wong, long-range planning manager with the MOA, said they are looking for solutions to the parking problem within the district.
Currently, parking in the U-Med district is taken care of by each individual institution. There is research underway to improve parking for all institutions in the district by combining the parking instead of it being an institutional function.
Jim Richardson of Rogers Park is concerned that further development and the expansion of Elmore Road would disrupt the unique resource Alaska has in the two universities that make their home in the district.
“I would like to prevent transportation improvements and infrastructure needs from intruding onto UAA-APU college boundaries, which would affect their respective college environments,” Richardson said.
He does not support the Elmore Road extension that would cut through the UAA campus and is concerned that some of the proposals will affect the academic environment for both universities.
Richardson said changes made to UAA and APU would affect everyone in the state, and he does not feel that state lawmakers support education.
University Lake, a popular place for university students to get some fresh air, may be affected by development of the district.
Mary Lu Harle of College Gate is concerned that development would cause harm to the vegetation around University Lake. Hurle would also like to see the lake renamed as a multi-use facility instead of an off-leash dog park.
Al Milspaugh, also of College Gate, is concerned mostly with the protection of the greenbelt. Milspaugh says he does not feel the greenbelt would be protected with the Elmore Road expansion, and damage would be done to the University Lake area.
Wong stated the MOA would like to see more university students involved with the planning process. She said they hosted a meeting not too long ago in the Student Union, and only about 20 students attended. Of the 20 students who attended the meeting, the MOA realized they needed to create a village near UAA. The village would include a grocery store, restaurants and possibly a pub or two.
Wong said it’s important for students to become involved and interested in what happens in the U-Med district because it’s their campus, and eventually some of the students may want to work and live in the district. Wong asks of students, why not help shape it?
Members of the University Community Council were also present at the meeting and stated they would like to see more university students attend the meetings as well. The council meets on the first Wednesday of every month at the University Baptist Church.
The next open house will discuss the northern access and will be held at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at East Anchorage High School.