Update: Controversial UNH Plan to Develop Open Land

Another public review of the final UNH Master Plan, which may affect agricultural land surrounding the campus, is slated for the fall. From Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner, NH Department of Agriculture, via New Hampshire Farms:

UNH Campus Plan Controversy

Normally updating campus master plans attracts little more than yawns and idle curiosity from students or members of the public. Not this year’s proposals for future building and land use at the University of New Hampshire. On April 17 two forums on the UNH plan drew overflow crowds. “This huge response was unexpected,” Assistant Vice President for Energy and Campus Development Paul Chamberlin told the crowd at the second forum.

The part of the plan that has so many students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members riled up involves “Public-Private Ventures” such as research parks and commercial development of university-owned lands along Main Street, from the railroad tracks west to Route 4. This stretch of land includes the Thompson School’s Putnam Hall, the greenhouses, horse barns and paddocks, the Organic Gardening Club farm and the Fairchild Dairy Center’s hay fields. UNH Chief Sustainability Officer Tom Kelly has often described this pastoral gateway to campus from Route 4 as the university’s “emerald necklace.”

Students testified to how the agricultural lands and buildings close to campus distinguish UNH. History Professor Jeffrey Bolster called for university leaders to return to UNH’s core values.

Following the forums, the UNH Master Plan Steering Committee announced it had “developed language to limit potential development along Main Street” and new language that would limit “any unanticipated changes in this area to those that sustain and when possible enhance the educational, agricultural and aesthetic value of the land.” This could suggest that the little-known, but pre-existing plan to move the equine facilities from the current location to land on the road approaching the Woodman Horticultural Farm, could still go forward. Equine students and alumni say the move would make scheduling classes on campus and activities at the barns difficult or impossible.

Two additional forums were scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, where the new revisions to the original proposals were to be presented. Originally slated for presentation to the Board of Trustees in June, the plan is now for another public review of the final plan in the fall.  Find more information and view the proposed plans and videos of the first public forum at the campus plan update webpage www.unh.edu/cmp. A revised version of the slides presented at the April 17 forums posted on the site no longer shows big-box retail development of the field adjacent to the Fairchild Dairy. Send written comments by clicking on ‘Contact Us’ on the webpage, or email to cmp.ideas@unh.edu. Or mail to Campus Master Plan, University of New Hampshire, Ritzman Laboratory, 22 Colovos Road, Durham NH 03824-3515.


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