To access the master plan and/or make comments, please see the Master Plan main page.
The following questions are ones that we have been asked in public meetings, through this web site or in other conversations.
Q: Would the ECOS Garden be affected by the Campus Master Plan?
A: The ECOS Garden site would remain intact under the Campus Master Plan Update. In addition, a triangular site adjacent to the railroad tracks on the north portion of the campus has been identified as a potential future community garden site.
Q: Would state funds be used for the proposed student housing?
A: No, the proposed student housing would be developed through a public-private partnership. A private developer would be selected to "team" with the University to develop new student housing facilities. The developer would provide the construction and permanent financing, and would operate and maintain the new housing facilities. The University would provide the site for the new housing facilities under a ground lease.
Q:Why is affordable housing being proposed for faculty and staff members?
A: The high housing costs in Ashland make it difficult for SOU to attract candidates for entry-level faculty and staff positions because many potential candidates can’t afford to buy housing in the community. The proposed faculty/staff housing would be developed under a public-private partnership in which the University would retain ownership of the land. No state funds would be involved. The price of the housing units would not reflect the land cost and would therefore be more affordable. Housing units could only be sold to the University, which would then make the units available to other faculty and staff members.
Q: Would the proposed new student and faculty housing be subject to property taxes?
A: The land on which the proposed housing would be built would continue to be owned by the University so it would not be subject to property taxes. However, the "improvements" on the property could be subject to property taxes.
Q: The "campus boundary" includes my house. Will the University use the power of eminent domain to obtain my property?
A: The campus boundary was a carry-over from previous campus master plans. The intent of the campus boundary was to indicate properties that the University might be interested in acquiring at some point in the future. The University is not proposing to acquire any new property under this Campus Master Plan Update, and is therefore not even considering use of the power of eminent domain.
Q: Does the indication of proposed new buildings on the Campus Master Plan allow construction of those buildings as accepted uses?
A: Only those proposed buildings which are not within 50 feet of privately-owned property or that do not exceed 40 feet in height would be allowed outright as accepted uses. Within the City's Southern Oregon (SO) zone, any proposed buildings that are within 50 feet of privately-owned property or that exceed 40 feet in height would have to go through a conditional use permit process, which would include public hearings.
Q: Would the proposed faculty/staff housing on Ashland and Henry Streets, west of Mountain Avenue be three stories tall?
A: No, the University would limit the height of the housing units to two stories. On the Ashland Street frontage, the housing units would be no more than 1½ stories tall on the street side.
Q: Why does the Campus Master Plan drawing show that one of the City's softball fields north of Iowa Street would be eliminated?
A: The land where the softball fields are located has been owned by the University for many years. The University had an agreement with the City of Ashland Parks & Recreation Department under which Parks & Recreation would maintain the fields and make them available to softball leagues during the summer. However, Parks & Recreation ended the agreement with the University after the new softball complex was developed in Medford because the Iowa Street softball fields were no longer needed. The University now maintains those softball fields. Under the Campus Master Plan Update, one of the softball fields would remain for P.E. classes, intramural sports, and pick-up games.
Q: Why is the University proposing to replace the Cascade Residence Hall with new student housing?
A: The Cascade Residence Hall was designed at a time when energy was cheap and seemingly inexhaustible. As a result, Cascade is a particularly poor energy performer. The energy-related problems include:
Cascade was also designed with galvanized water piping, often cast directly into the concrete. Galvanized piping has a relatively short life span and it is not uncommon to see failure in the pipe wall strength as early as 25-30 years, and Cascade is no exception. Replacing the piping is difficult due to the fact that some of the piping is cast in concrete. This further compromises Cascade’s structural concrete system, because the corrosion caused by rust has lead to concrete floor failures observed at the kitchen area.
Cascade was also constructed at a time when the seismic threat in southern Oregon was considered to be relatively low. Because our understanding of both building science and geological science has increase markedly since that time, we now know that the concrete system used in that building is particularly brittle and will perform very poorly in a seismic event, creating a life safety problem.
Cascade was designed at a time when double-occupancy, gang toilet/shower arrangements was the expected norm. That arrangement has much more limited appeal these days.
The cast-in-place concrete structure makes adaptive reuse quite difficult. The existing floor-to-floor heights are very low, making air distribution a problem. Many of the existing walls separating the units are structural, making removal costly and complex.
In summary, Cascade has exceeded its original anticipated life expectancy, and is ready for a significant overhaul. However, the particular architectural, structural and mechanical features of this building make renovation as a modern responsible, energy efficient and safe building particularly costly and complex. It is difficult for a public institution to evaluate the value of an existing asset in terms of replacement. A common metric is to compare cost of renovation versus cost of replacement. It is generally accepted that when renovation approaches 65% of replacement cost, replacement is generally warranted. In the case of Cascade, we would expect to see renovation cost to be more than 100% of replacement and renovation would probably never be able to achieve the energy and program requirements of a new building.