Western seeks city council approval to vacate South College Way. Western plans to build a new road behind Fairhaven College on the hillside of the Sehome Aboretum. Western is not being honest and forthright about its plans.
This would spend millions of dollars wrecking a valuable road, tearing up the arboretum and not add a single classroom.
Western's Institutional Master Plan (IMP) shows the new road through the Arboretum on page III-23.
This pdf is 33 MB.
Or, we have posted pictures of the relevant plan on another page.
Vacating South Campus Drive
Western asks city to abandon South Campus Drive.
A public hearing will be held on Wednesday, June 12, 2002 at 6 pm in the City Council Chamber to take public comment.
Bellingham should not vacate South Campus Drive as Western is petitioning the city.
1. Millions of tax dollars built and enhanced thisSouth Campus Drive as part of Western's master plan only 30 years ago. It is the main entrance to the south campus and is used by thousands of cars a day. This is not just a street, it is a tree lined boulevard. It is the most direct access to the campus from the primary entrance to Western, Bill McDonald Way - which was also built for Western 30 years ago. Vacating this street throws away money and will create traffic problems.
1. a. Western will say it won't destroy the street until a replacement street is approved and built. It will say it cannot proceed without the knowledge that it can vacate this street. This argument is bogus, violates common sense, and violates the state GMA by piecemealing a project and doing planning without public process. A total plan and costs should be proposed, processed and approved.
1.b. Western may even submit plans at this hearing of what it proposes. The Hearing Examiner should not allow this testimony because nothing of replacement has been approved.
2. Western has been less than honest over the past 6 years about its traffic plans on campus. Indeed, Western has changed its campus street plan at least 7 times since 1996. Western is on record submitting several differing plans for various government reviews of this same deceptive initiative. There is no way of knowing whether this street vacation will actually be needed for future traffic campus plans. Replacement plans should be thoroughly examined and approved before vacation of this public street.
3. Western plans to bulldoze two new roads to replace access to campus. One would plow through from 21st and Bill McDonald Parkway up to the water tower. The other would be carved from the foot of Sehome hill. This violates Sehome Arboretum, the other hillside and policies for retaining wooded hillsides and protecting sensitive, steep slopes. The Sehome route would begin across from Sehome High School parking lot, curve behind Fairhaven College, run along the lower Sehome Hill just behind Fairhaven College and join the existing road behind Huxley, Ross and Old Main. This plan needs public hearings to learn what is so wrong with it.
5. The Growth Management laws of Washington are violated by this process. The public has not been involved and the plan in being implemented piecemeal. The City and University promised a multi-neighborhood planning process after being found to be out of compliance with GMA provisions when they jointly attempted to regulate land-use regulations through a "Memorandum of Agreement". This process has not been forthcoming.
6. This is a giant boondoggle, ripping up millions of dollars worth of perfectly good roads to be replaced with millions of dollars of roads savagely carved out of existing scenic, wooded backdrops. No one else would be allowed to do so much with so little disclosure and such deception. It seems Western is unimpressed with the State's current budgetary crisis.
7. This street vacation should not be permitted as it is a much used street and no replacement has been formally approved.
8. Finally, this expensive landscaping project will not add one classroom to the campus. Western will say it adds room for future classrooms, but it should be noted this will be at the expense of the Sehome Arboretum. This is an attempt to cast into concrete a plan that is being presented by stealth.