Connecting Eugene is “cautiously optimistic” about UO President Richard Lariviere’s May 2 announcement that the school will look into an alternative location for the proposed Oregon Research Institute (ORI) and Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) building, according to Paul Cziko, a member of the student and community based group.
Connecting Eugene has long advocated the site at 1700 Millrace Drive, among others, as an alternative location for the ORI/EPIC project that would allow the riverfront to remain free of the planned parking lot and office building. The site is “an appropriate place for this building,” Cziko said.
Under Lariviere’s recommendation, the parties involved in the development would continue planning for the controversial existing riverfront site while simultaneously examining the feasibility of the Millrace location, according to the UO’s press release, which said developer Trammell Crow Company has been asked to examine the second parcel.
Connecting Eugene has also advocated for a more up-to-date master plan for the UO, one that is more ecologically, public and people oriented, said Cziko. The current master plan for development that called for the ORI/EPIC riverfront construction is over 20 years old. This is something that was also addressed in the school’s press release, which included this quote from Rich Linton, vice president for research and graduate studies: “Beyond this project, the university will launch a master planning process to help address future facilities needs for UO’s expanding role in catalyzing innovation and its ties to economic development.”
The new direction from Lariviere may have come from “concern voiced by community members, students and faculty,” Cziko said. Both student and faculty senates have voted in support of Connecting Eugene’s efforts to update the master plan and rethink the proposed building and parking lot on the riverfront. Though encouraged by Lariviere’s statement, Cziko says the UO has not withdrawn its permits for the riverfront site, nor has Connecting Eugene backed down on its case before the Land Use Board of Appeals.