Neighbors voice concerns, praise at annual meeting

Construction brings headaches, hassles and harried drivers. But when done correctly, it also brings some accolades.

At the fifth annual “Report to the Neighbors” meeting Oct. 8 in Steinberg Hall, a panel of University administrators heard both concerns and praise for the way construction, parking and financial matters have been handled in the past year.

The panel featured Pat Barrett, a member of the Neighbors Council; Steve Hoffner, assistant vice chancellor for students and director of operations; James E. McLeod, vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences; Richard A. Roloff, executive vice chancellor; and Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

Leah Merrifield, director of community relations, moderated the meeting.

The majority of neighbors’ concerns centered on the ongoing construction — how it has, and will, affect traffic patterns; what else is on the horizon as far as new buildings and renovations; and parking issues.

Roloff and Wrighton addressed some of the concerns and said there is not any new additional construction planned for the immediate future, but several buildings would take “official” steps this year.

According to Wrighton, Uncas A. Whitaker Hall for Biomedical Engineering will be formally dedicated Oct. 20, and the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Sam Fox Arts Center will be April 14, with artist Frank Stella delivering the keynote address.

In addition, Wrighton said, the Olin Library renovation will be finished in the spring, with a May 7 dedication that will feature former Harvard University President Neil Rudenstine delivering the keynote address and the dedicating of a George Washington statue.

With the expansion of the University’s holdings off campus, a concern was raised that some students have taken to parking in residential areas. Hoffner said expansion of the Snow Way Parking Garage would take place when construction of the University Center begins, probably in two or three years.

Other neighbors praised the University for its attention to detail and safety during all phases of construction, and for supporting the installation of a traffic light at Lindell and Skinker boulevards, which was initiated by Lyda Krewson, 28th ward alderman for the city of St. Louis.

Additionally, the building at 276 N. Skinker Blvd. is all but completed, and Kayak’s Coffee and Provisions has taken residence in one of the ground-floor spaces and is open for business.

The meeting began with a presentation by Darlene Norfleet, science program coordinator for Science Outreach, a program that connects the resources of the University to K-12 schools and the St. Louis community.

The program’s goal is to enhance science teaching through hands-on investigative methods, especially for neighboring districts with a demonstrated need. The program reaches more than 15,000 students and 500 teachers each year.