Opposition to development on the Riverfront under the current (1989) Master Plan has been strong since the adoption of the plan by the university in 1989. In 1989 Professor Alvin Urquhart appealed the issuance of the Condition Use Permit (CUP) all the way to the Oregon Supreme Court on the basis of violating principles of the Willamette Greenway Act. Also in 1989, the Students of the University of Oregon passed the Campus Greenway Initiative to reserve the riverfront for open space and public uses during the spring Senate general election.
In 1997 some 200 students rallied at the EMU (Student Union) and the Urban Farm on campus opposing construction of an automobile underpass at the northern terminus of Agate Street, which was intended to open the riverfront to further development. In 1998, after years of contention and student opposition, a review of the Riverfront Research Park was initiated by President Frohnmayer. The review committee received approximately 100 emails and letters from university faculty, students, and Eugene community members and groups. The content of these letters indicate that public opposition to riverfront development was approximately 50:1 at this time.
In 1999, following the issuance of the report, which stated that the riverfront sector must be protected from development until all lands south of the railroad tracks were occupied, the University Senate – the official governing body of the University of Oregon – passed a resolution opposing all development on the riverfront, north of the railroad tracks.
In October 2009, the University applied to the City of Eugene for a 3-year extension to the 20-year Conditional Use Permit to develop the riverfront. The extension was granted, but then appealed by ConnectingEugene on the grounds that the University could not fulfill the conditions of the permit – such as completion of the Research Park within the 20-year timeline established by the original permit. The appeal also charged that surrounding conditions had changed significantly since the issuance of the permit in 1989. The appeal files contained over 600 public comments in opposition, while only 11 were in favor of the extension.
In 2009, the ASUO Student Senate unanimously supported a motion to oppose development on the Riverfront under the current Master Plan, and a similar resolution was passed in January 2010 in the University Senate. During faculty meetings of the Architecture and Landscape Architecture departments in winter term of 2010, each of these groups voted unanimously to oppose the proposed first development on the riverfront.
In April 2010, both the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) and the Graduate students in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (GrEBES) voted unanimously in opposition to development on the riverfront under the current Master Plan.
On April 15, 2010, the faculty of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts voted unanimously to support a resolution opposing riverfront development under the current plan. Among many other issues, the faculty found fault with the use of a 20-year old plan for development, citing the changes in community values and design principles within this time.
In May 2010, faculty members of the Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology signed a letter to UO President Lariviere and other stakeholders stating their opposition to development North of the tracks without an updated and community-inclusive master plan.
In the past year over 1100 signatures from students and community members have been collected on various petitions opposing development on the Willamette riverfront under the current Master Plan.
Despite this overwhelming opposition, the University of Oregon administration appears determined to develop the riverfront under the current master plan without regard for the democratic process, and will of the University and Eugene communities.
Resolutions and Statements
Senate Resolution US98/99-4 – 13 Jan 1999
RESOLVED, that the University Senate hereby urges President Frohnmayer to exclude the University-owned lands in the River View and Gateway Sectors from any future commercial development and to designate these lands for open space, recreational fields and natural areas.
Passed: 20 in favor, 10 opposed
Senate Resolution US09/10-11 – 13 Jan 2010
RESOLVED: (1) the University Senate declares opposition to the planned development of the first 4.3-acre increment of the Riverfront Research Park North of the railroad tracks on the South bank of the Willamette River until the University undergoes a student and faculty inclusive, open process for revising the RRP Master Plan; and (2) that the Senate President be directed to write and send a letter to the University President and the City of Eugene expressing the Senate’s opposition to the planned development North of the railroad tracks along the South bank of the Willamette River.
Passed: 29 in favor, 8 opposed
SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE AND ALLIED ARTS
School-wide Faculty Meeting – Spring Term 2010
RESOLVED: The standards of best practice in planning and design have profoundly changed in the last 20 years, due in large part to the environmental challenges that face us. In light of the these changes, the faculty of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts urge that development north of the railroad tracks in the University of Oregon’s Riverfront Research Park be halted until the now obsolete, twenty-year old master plan and permits for this area are replaced with new thinking that better represents present community and ecological values.
DEPARTMENTS OF ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
Department Faculty Meetings – Winter Term 2010
Statements of opposition to proposed first development
(Text of these resolutions is available from the departments)
Passed: Unanimous support from 100% of regular faculty in each department
CENTER FOR ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
Letter – May 2010
We the undersigned faculty of the University of Oregon’s Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (CEEB) request that the planning process for the Riverfront Research Park be reopened for public input before any new riverfront development occurs North of the tracks. The master plan is dated, and the University of Oregon has a large number of professionals, including designers, ecologists, and urban planners, who have not been included in the process.
Scott Bridgham, Bitty Roy, Brendan Bohannan, Patrick Phillips, Alan Dickman, Jessica Green, Matthew Streisfeld, Joseph Thornton, Peter Wetherwax, Richard W. Castenholz, William A. Cresko, John Conery, George C. Carrroll (13 of 14)
ASUO STUDENT SENATE
ASUO Resolution – 19 Nov 2009
RESOLVED: The ASUO Student Senate declares strong opposition to the renewal of the conditional use permit extension for the planned development of the first 4.2-acre increment of the Riverfront Research Park north of the railroad tracks on the south bank of the Willamette River until the University undergoes a student inclusive, open process for revising the RRP Master Plan; and that, that the ASUO Student Senate encourages the University Senate to voice their solidarity with students on the issue and pass a similar resolution.
Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) of the University of Oregon – 2 April, 2010
RESOLVED: The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation of the University of Oregon declares opposition to development within the Riverfront Research Park north of the railroad tracks until the University undergoes a student and faculty inclusive, open process for revising the Riverfront Research Park Master Plan and (2) that the GTFF Executive Board be directed to write and send a letter to the University President declaring this position and requesting his support and a formal response regarding this issue.
GrEBES (Graduate Evolutionary Biology and Ecology Students) Resolution 2010-01 –Mar 31, 2010
RESOLVED: (1) The ASUO-recognized group of graduate students in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (GrEBES) declare opposition to development within the Riverfront Research Park north of the railroad tracks until (a) the University undergoes a student and faculty inclusive, open process for revising the Riverfront Research Park Master Plan and (b) takes into account modern scientifically-sound ecological principles as they apply to riparian habitat, water quality, and wildlife corridor in riverfront development; and (2) that the GrEBES President and Vice President be directed to write and send a letter to the University President declaring this position; and (3) That the President and Vice President present a letter to Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (CEEB) faculty members stating GrEBES’ position on riverfront development and requesting their support in order to ensure that student opinions and values are heard and respected in planning the long-term vision for the University of Oregon.
LiveMove (Transportation and Livability and UO Sustainable Cities Initiative student group) – Nov. 19, 2009
We are deeply troubled by the University’s plans to construct a parking lot and private office building fronting the Willamette River at the western edge of the Riverfront Research Park. As the University of Oregon’s transportation and livability student group, we advocate for multimodal transportation options and ecologically responsible land use. As such, we assert that the riverfront properties, owned by the State of Oregon, are of a public character and its development significantly affects our community. We believe that the University needs a new master plan to govern development on our important riverfront; Conditional Use Permit 88-16, approved in 1989, is clearly outdated. We urge you to deny the University’s request to extend CU 88-16, and to encourage the University to develop a new master plan that is ecologically and socially responsible, governed by current development laws and best practices, and that protects our previous riverfront. We are not against development, but assert that the University’s extension application does NOT meet the approval criteria in Eugene Code 9.8110 because the development and planning in the surrounding area is very different now than it was in 1989, and because the new physical design for the ORI building and parking lot, which fronts the bike path and river, are a significant change from the approved 1989 master plan.
Campus Greenway Initiative, Ballot Measure 90
1989 ASUO General Election – In response to the development of the Riverfront Research Park Plan
“It shall be the official policy of the ASUO to encourage the University of Oregon to protect and preserve its riverfront open space as ‘campus greenway’. The ASUO President shall write to the President of the University of Oregon and to the Eugene City Council expressing this student position and shall appoint a liaison to meet with the planners.”
Passed: 1452 in favor, 394 opposed
GREATER EUGENE COMMUNITY
Whiteaker Community Council – April 30, 2010
Letter with statements opposing plans for riverfront ORI building- Full text available here
“…We at the Whiteaker Community Council support a transparent and participatory planning process to update the 1989 Master Plan before development occurs north of the railroad tracks, and we oppose development of the Willamette Greenway.”
Approved: Unanimous – WCC Board