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April 13, 1995

City Planning to hold 3rd hearing on University's master space plan

Pittsburgh City Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on the University's master space plan on April 18 at 3 p.m. in the John P. Robin Civic Building, 200 Ross St., Downtown.

At the hearing, which will be the third conducted by the Planning Commission on Pitt's master space plan, the city planning staff's recommendations on the will be presented.

"We would hope at that point in time the commission would vote approval of the plan," Jay Roling, of Governmental Relations, told Senate Council's plant utilization and planning committee (PUP) at its April 10 meeting.

The master space plan, which was endorsed in draft form by Pitt's Board of Trustees as part of the University's "Toward the 21st Century" plan on Oct. 21, outlines the physical development of the Pittsburgh campus over the next five, 10 and 20 years.

At previous hearings, Oakland residents and neighborhood groups had expressed concern to the Planning Commission about the student housing and transportation elements of the master space plan. Residents and neighborhood groups were particularly concerned about the lack of student housing projects in the short-range period of the master space plan and the effect that the proposed convocation center might have on traffic and parking in Oakland.

Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Ben Tuchi sought to allay Oakland residents' concerns about student housing at the Planning Commission's Jan. 24 hearing, when he announced that the University would seek proposals on a 200-bed dormitory to be constructed on the Pitt Tavern site along Fifth Avenue.

Tuchi also attempted to placate local residents on the traffic issue by pointing out moves by the University to improve traffic conditions in Oakland. Among those actions, he noted, have been the institution of shuttle bus service, ridesharing programs, incentive programs to encourage the use of public mass transit, stricter parking law enforcement, initiation of a bicycle program, and the creation of satellite parking lots outside of Oakland.

In addition, Tuchi pointed out, Pitt has joined with Carnegie Mellon, Chatham and Carlow to address the traffic issue. Tuchi told the commission that he knows of no other employer in the city who has done as much to address traffic and related environmental concerns as Pitt and promised that the University would continue to work to improve traffic conditions in Oakland.

The Planning Commission had originally excepted to vote on Pitt's master space plan in late February or early March, but postponed action to give planning department staff additional time to study the master space plan and address the concerns of Oakland residents and neighborhood groups.

Roling told PUP that the University has supplied the city planning department with additional information on various elements of the master space plan, such as student housing and transportation, and that "we are encouraged by what is coming back" from the Planning Commission.

–Mike Sajna

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