After input from thousands of community members, Cal Poly has released its latest updates to the Master Plan.
Notable updates include the removal of the planned hotel and conference center, as well as keeping the Leaning Pine Arboretum and prime agricultural lands as they are.
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said the university opted out of some profitable options, such as the hotel and conference center, partially because the profits were not a strong enough reason to overcome the educational benefit of the areas to be built on.
Long-term academic projects like agricultural experiments are important, he said, and the university did not focus entirely on money in constructing the new plan.
To Armstrong, the most exciting aspect of the new plan is the student housing and everything that makes students want to live on campus, including the Creekside Village facilities.
The freshman core will be completed with Housing South and additional housing behind the red brick residence halls, freeing up Poly Canyon Village and Cerro Vista for sophomores.
There will be another option for housing — residential neighborhoods which will primarily provide space for non-students or nontraditional students. This area could be filled with condominium complexes for faculty and staff, graduate students and student families, Armstrong said.
To build these facilities, Cal Poly will partner with a private entity, bringing in revenue from the land lease.
The lands to be built on are not currently developed, with the exception of the track. A track will be built in a new location before the construction on that residential neighborhood begins.
The goal of adding residential neighborhoods is to help recruit and retain employees. Development of this site is still subject to detailed analysis and would occur in phases, according to a press release from the university.
Hotel and conference center
The hotel and conference center has been removed from this version of the Master Plan for several reasons. For one, the university is still undecided on adding a tourism and hospitality academic program and curriculum — though even with that program, a hotel is not guaranteed.
The professional planners working on the Master Plan said the hotel might not be a feasible idea, Armstrong said, especially with the agricultural land out of consideration. With new hotels in the city as well, one on campus was deemed unnecessary for now.
Prime agricultural land
Feedback from the community contributed to the removal of potential renovations on agricultural land, Armstrong said, but there were other feasibility factors that solidified the decision. He appreciated the comments from concerned students and said he was “very impressed” by their professionalism.
Armstrong wants a process just like this, he said — one in which students and the community provide feedback, and the university adapts its plans to take their points into consideration.
Leaning Pine Arboretum
The university received community feedback about the Leaning Pine Arboretum, as well. The plan was to move it to another location, but planners were unsure if the Cal Poly community would allow them to remove the original arboretum. Its accessibility will be enhanced, though, with an entrance near Poly Canyon Village.
The greenhouses will still be moved, but not until the new and improved ones have been built. It’s important to note, Armstrong said, that nothing will be taken down until the new facility has been built, so there are no gaps in education or use of the facility. The same goes for the track and aerospace hangar.
The Corporation Yard will be moved near the dairy facilities, freeing up 10 acres of space closer to the core of campus. The new location for the Corporation Yard could house businesses, as is currently the case in Technology Park at the corner of Mt. Bishop Road and Highland Drive.
In an effort to focus on more pressing issues, Armstrong has halted planning the possibility of a year-round schedule. Though he still believes that academic schedule is a more efficient use of the facilities, he wants all university resources to be focused on pertinent initiatives, such as the Master Plan, diversity and campus climate.
One noteworthy renovation — which is not part of this version of the Master Plan, and will be approved ahead of the rest of the mentioned renovations — is that of VG Cafe, which will be replaced with a three-story building that can feed 30 percent more students.
The new building will be funded through the Cal Poly Corporation, meaning student fees will not go towards its construction. However, purchases made at the dining hall will go towards offsetting development costs.
The university has worked with city leaders throughout the planning process, and Armstrong is optimistic about their collaboration and cooperative relationship. Cal Poly needs to balance sensitivity to the surrounding community’s needs with keeping the university’s promises to its patrons, he said.
Community members will be allowed to participate in open discussions on the Master Plan this fall. Administrators hope to have a preferred plan set in place by November or December.
Following the finalized plan, a team will work on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), a process that typically takes six months. The EIR will then be open for review.
Since Cal Poly doesn’t want the discussion to take place over summer, administrators will wait until Fall 2016 to receive feedback. The minimum amount of time for feedback required is 45 days, though Armstrong said the university plans to take the Master Plan and EIR to the Board of Trustees in Spring 2017.
Anyone can comment on the Master Plan through its website.