Apr 242012
 
Authors: Jason Pohl

In an effort to enhance the proposed on-campus stadium dialogue, Tony Frank voluntarily addressed the Fort Collins City Council Tuesday evening, fielding questions and concerns from both sides of the polarizing debate.

During the 45-minute discussion, council members addressed Frank and Amy Parsons, vice president for University Operations, on topics they said residents had been repeatedly bringing up including parking, neighborhood traffic flow and the role of CSU as an academic or athletic institution.

“It’s a complicated topic,” Frank said of the divisive issue. “I hear loudly and clearly the concerns people raise. I hear loudly and clearly, at least from my perspective, a very strong level of support.”

“We understand very clearly that our campus doesn’t end at certain borders,” he added.

The stadium advisory committee is expected to deliver its decision to Frank in May. From there, he said he will take the summer months to weigh his thoughts and the opinions of the community before arriving at a decision in the fall.

He was quick to note that the decision in fall is simply a decision that would evaluate whether the project discussion and funding exploration had enough “merit” to continue. Beyond that, he said the decision-making process will “proceed on an appropriate time line.”

Of the highly anticipated and talked-about 2014 opening, Frank said that was “amazingly aggressive.”

Frank fielded questions from some admittedly skeptical council members about the practicality of the project, especially at times when classrooms are being driven into basements, housing options are limited and the university makes plans to expand by thousands of students in the coming years.

Several council members have a presence on campus, sometimes even guest lecturing.

“I don’t get it,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Kelly Ohlson. “I’ve tried to get it. I just think there’s too many downsides. I don’t think the town gets it. Coming out tonight, I just oppose the idea.”

Ohlson advocated for a non-binding vote in which residents could officially voice their concern. Because it is a CSU issue, he said the votes could be used as a signal to Frank and a solid voice in the decision whether to move forward.

Of the vote, Frank said it would be helpful information that would weigh on the verdict, though he said it would not be the fundamental deciding factor.

Several members also expressed concerns about the amount of time and resources that have been pooled into the stadium efforts and how successful CSU is being at fulfilling its academic mission.

“We’re a university first and we will do those things,” Frank said.

As the discussion concluded, council welcomed additional feedback from the community and encouraged a continued open dialogue in an issue that has divided so much of the city in so little time.

“We share the same residence and the community,” said Mayor Karen Weitkunat. “It’s important that those doors of communication continue to be open without passing judgment.”

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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