Thursday, October 11, 2007

Yeah, another damned OCS post!

I wanted to follow-up on Jon's solid post below about the idea for an OCS (On-Campus Stadium) for the University of Memphis. I appreciate that he pointed out the discrepancies of scale on the Photoshopped picture regarding the footprint of an OCS south of the McWherter Library, as opposed to Harold Byrd's plan (listed in the Flyer back in March) which showed a more realistic view of the footprint.

I went round and round with OCS supporters the other day on the CA website, ostensibly because I was pissed off about this quote from Harold Byrd:

Harold Byrd said the potential stadium site south of the campus could be a boon for what he called an "at-risk residential area."

Excuse me? Normal Station ain't Dixie Homes, pal, it's not even Sherwood Forest, and that's not the projects, either. Look, I LIKE Harold Byrd, he's a good man who cares deeply about his community and the University of Memphis in particular. I just do not believe he understands how much an OCS would disrupt a neighborhood that has been stable since it was built during World War II. NSNA is not going to put up with this, I suspect, unless the U of M, the University District and the OCS folks all sit down in a room and work this out together.

I am not a NIMBY by nature, and the idea of walking to a U of M football game has its charms, until one realizes what this could do the area. Look, if the Byrd plan goes through, the Central lot will have to be doubled, the Southern lot will have to be doubled, and you're STILL going to have to work a better plan for parking with all of that.

Next, as I noted in the post below, what happens if an OCS is built, the alumni rejoice, and demand for on-campus HOUSING skyrockets? A) How do you fund it, and B) where do you put it? In essence, if all that land between Walker & Central and Patterson & Highland is bought up, where do you put the people and organizations who have been forced out? If you double the Southern lot, where do you build the rumored new Lab building?

As always, the devil is in the details. Harold, once the U completes its study, why not get out front with town hall meetings with Dr. Raines, RC Johnson, the University District, Normal Station, and even East Buntyn (since they'll be right across the street). Be ready to answer LOTS and LOTS of questions, but you just might find that if you have answers, you might have more support than you had planned, and, to steal a Martha Stewart line, that would be a GOOD thing.

3 comments:

Julie said...

I appreciate some of the points made here, however:

1. why would parking "have" to be doubled? go to oxford or knoxville...you park where you can, and you walk. there does not have to be a concrete jungle surrounding a stadium.

2. the UDI's plan, supposedly, is to work in tandem with the university to improve BOTH the University and the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as businesses. they cite university area examples such as ann arbor, durham, and boston. all of these locations have on-campus stadiums.

i don't have to explain to anyone how businesses on & around highland will benefit from an OCS.

3. I guess people here only have the fairgrounds to base this assumption on, but property values around a stadium do NOT fall simply because a stadium is there. I actually live right behind Tobey Field, and I can assure you my property values are just fine, on the rise, even. I doubt Chickasaw Gardens or Cooper-Young are very worried about declining values, either. The Beltline are is the only "iffy" area, I guess, and that was already in decline before the LB was built.

4. We're talking about 7, MAYBE 8 days out of the year that life in the university area MIGHT be disrupted by a little more traffic. That's it.

Again, as a property owner near the closets residential area to Tiger tailgating, I can tell you that we don't have any disruptions in our neighborhood from it...there are maybe cars parked along one street during the larger games, and those people are on the move to the game; they're not lingering.

Besides, if anyone who lives in this area doesn't want to be bothered by all this hubbub, perhaps they should consider where they live - NEXT TO A COLLEGE.

5. I addressed the housing issue in a previous comment, but heaven forbid The U of M actually have a BOOST in enrollment, to where they have to have more housing, or actually fill all the housing they already have. The master plan already includes tearing down some existing dorms to build new ones.

The focus should be on keeping Memphis kids here, which ends up retaining local talent after graduation. We don't want them leaving to go to MTSU just so they can have a "college experience."

The U of M has to start thinking bigger, and the longer they wait, the more of a disparity there will be between us & other universities around the region.

LeftWingCracker said...

Julie,

Great points, and I never expected the property values to go down. My point, more than Jon's, is that the neighborhoods need to be involved in the planning if an OCS is built so as to minimize any negatives that may occur.

It has looked for a while like this was going to be rammed through without input from UDi, NSNA or EBNA, and that is NOT a good thing.

I agree about the need for the U to grow, it's scary that the largest University in Tennessee is not the U of M or UTK, it's MTSU.

Julie said...

"My point, more than Jon's, is that the neighborhoods need to be involved in the planning if an OCS is built so as to minimize any negatives that may occur."


I couldn't agree with you more...it will take everyone working together to make the U of M & the surrounding area more successful