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MU officials lay groundwork for new plan

Dec. 05, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Administrators, educators, planners and members of the public all converged on Marshall University's campus Tuesday evening to participate in the first of a handful of advisory meetings in preparation for the school's 2013 Facilities and Land Use Master Plan.

About 50 people attended the meeting, during which members of Marshall's Master Plan Executive Committee joined planners and consultants with SmithGroup JJR in a presentation outlining what kind of input and plans each group has in mind for the plan and ultimately all of Marshall's campuses.

Marshall is required by the commission to put together the comprehensive 10-year master plan and submit it by the end of 2013. The most recent plan was approved by Marshall's Board of Governors in 2003.

While planners with SmithGroup JJR, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., have surveyed Marshall's main campus and have plans to visit all of it satellite campuses, it is vital for local residents to let their thoughts be known to committee members and planners, said Karen Kirtley, senior vice president of administration at Marshall and a member of the Master Plan Executive Committee.

"The community's input is important because this community is tied so closely to Marshall," Kirtley said. "I think we all share the hope that we can see Marshall University grow in a way that it continues to be a vital part of this community that students and the public can rely on well into the future."

The foundation for the plan is still in the "Discovery" stage, but planners already are focusing on things like improving the flow of campus across 5th and 3rd avenues and renovating current facilities to improve the aesthetics and energy efficiency of campus said Lauren Williams, urban designer for SmithGroup JJR.

She said she is hoping to hear as much feedback as possible from Huntington residents and Marshall students to make sure the group puts together the most effective plan.

"What we find is the more input and feedback we get from the public, the better-developed the plans are and the easier they are to implement once they are in place," Williams said. "This plan will encompass a broad range of people, and we are relying on Marshall's partnership with its community to create this plan."

There will be at least five more meetings on campus between now and before the plan is submitted to the Higher Education Policy Commission in December 2013.

Each of those meetings will be open to the public and will include members of the Marshall's Master Plan Executive Committee, which consists nine of Marshall officials, including Kirtley and President Stephen Kopp.

In addition to SmithGroup JJR, the consultant team includes Corbin Design, Michael Baker Jr. Inc., Paulien Associates and The Protection Engineering Group.

Steve Zickefoose, of Huntington, attended the meeting Tuesday because he owns land near campus, and he said it is a duty of Huntington residents to make sure they are in the loop when it comes to the area's future.

"I wish there were a lot more people here, especially in the way of city and county officials, who can let people know what we have here and how we can help them make this work," he said. "I have property near campus, and when I heard about this meeting, I knew I should go because this plan will affect me, and it will affect the whole community."

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