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Campus, community input sought on Park Place Planning Strategy

Workshops to be held Feb. 22 and 23

Ohio University’s Park Place Planning Strategy Work Group is seeking campus and community input that will be used to chart the future of this historic area at the heart of the Athens Campus.

This past fall, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis established the Park Place Strategy Work Group, which is comprised of representatives from both the University and the City of Athens (see sidebar). The group is charged with facilitating a multi-phase planning process and developing comprehensive recommendations for the highest and best use of space along the Park Place and South Court Street corridor.

The work group has met each month since the planning began in September. During those meetings, the group established goals for the process; toured the areas and facilities along Park Place and South Court Street to gain an understanding of the corridor’s existing uses and conditions; began researching similar projects with other cities and universities; and started planning avenues to gather campus and community input. 

With a goal of both educating and soliciting feedback on the Park Place Planning Strategy, the work group has launched a website to share progress on the planning effort and to allow for input. The group has also scheduled public planning workshops designed to facilitate discussions and generate ideas about the future of the Park Place corridor. Those workshops will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Multipurpose Room A at the Athens Community Center and from noon to 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Baker University Center Ballroom. 

Individuals who are unable to attend the workshops may also submit feedback by emailing planning@ohio.edu or through an online survey that is open to OHIO students, faculty and staff, as well as community members.

“As Ohio University builds for its future, we are committed to a transparent and collaborative planning effort that draws on input from stakeholders both within our University community as well as those in the greater Athens community,” explained University Planner Shawna Bolin, who is co-chairing the work group with Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina. 

“During the planning process, we will be looking not only at pedestrian and vehicular flow as they pertain to safety in this area of our campus but also at leveraging buildings along Park Place and South Court Street as they relate to the needs of our students,” added Pina.

Development of the Park Place Planning Strategy is part of Ohio University’s Comprehensive Master Plan, a collaborative effort that was approved by the Board of Trustees in March 2016 and serves as a roadmap providing a long-term vision for the University and guiding the next 10 years of development at OHIO. The Comprehensive Master Plan envisions the Park Place Corridor as a center of student activity and programmatic space. 

Among the observations noted in the Comprehensive Master Plan is a shift in pedestrian activity from the northern end of OHIO’s College Green (West Union Street) to the southern end (Park Place) that has occurred in the years following the 2006 opening of Baker University Center. As Park Place has become a hub of pedestrian activity, the Comprehensive Master Plan calls for the University to partner with the City of Athens, which owns and maintains both the roadway and several underground utilities, and recommends: 

  • Improving pedestrian safety and making the corridor as pedestrian-oriented as possible
  • Expanding outdoor activity with student-centric spaces
  • Prioritizing the space as a center of student activity 
  • Encouraging vitality and connectivity to the College Green

“This planning process looks to seize on opportunities to improve open spaces around the center of campus as well as the efficiency of space usage in some of the facilities that front the Park Place Boulevard and South Court Street,” Bolin said. 

The Park Place Planning Strategy is occurring concurrently and in alignment with the University’s Small House Planning Strategy, a process that is examining the University-owned residential buildings that house offices and programs on the Athens Campus.

Work Group includes campus, community representatives

The following individuals are serving on the Ohio University Park Place Strategy Work Group, which is co-chaired by University Planner Shawna Bolin and Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina:

Brad Cohen, senior vice provost for instructional innovation
Chris Fahl, chair of Athens City Council’s Planning and Development Committee
Paul Logue, Athens City planner
Courteney Muhl, vice president of Student Senate
Susan Williams, professor of biomedical sciences in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and chair of Faculty Senate’s Finance and Facilities Committee

Members of the Park Place Strategy Work Group were appointed to represent their respective areas.

Park Place planning workshops slated for Feb. 22 and 23

The Park Place Strategy Work Group will be holding planning workshops designed to solicit input from members of the Ohio University and Athens communities. 

An off-campus planning workshop is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Multipurpose Room A at the Athens Community Center.

An on-campus planning workshop is slated for noon to 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Baker University Center Ballroom.