Hancher Voxman Clapp Site Selection Public Forum

Posted in: Iowa City News
Over 200 community members, journalists, faculty, and students packed the lower level of the Macbride Auditorium this evening for the University of Iowa's public forum on the relocation of the Hancher music building and the Arts building.

The agenda started with a welcome and background from Rod Lehnertz, director of planning, design, and construction for the university. Rod went through background of the damage from the flood event in that there were 22 major buildings impacted by the flood. Of those buildings, only Hancher and Voxman were deemed by FEMA guidelines as replaceable, rather than only repairable. "The remainder of the buildings that were impacted are in the process of being recovered and protected from future flooding," said Lehnertz.

"We began to study with consultants and others to evaluate in a very objective way what we should do regarding replacement or recovery of those buildings. The Board of Regents approved us to go forward with a replacement of those complexes," said Lehnertz.

They then proceeded into an update from the flood task force presented by Gregg Oden, co-chair of the Flood Task Force. Oden discussed the purpose of the task force being choosing the policies the university should have in selected in a site.

"It may be tempting to say let's build it on top of a Mountain, but that may not be the best decision," said Oden.

They determined that the site should at a minimum be outside of the line represented by the flood of 2008 plus one foot, and "totally out of the 500 year flood plain plus two feet" that will be determined.

Next to speak was Joe Hibbard, of Sosocky and Associations consulting firm. Joe went through the findings from the site selection team.

One of two sites identified in the study as having the fewest or no critical falls was a location near the Levitt center, which would be only several yards away from the current location. The other site identified was adjacent to the new recreation and wellness center, but would require acquisition of land not currently owned by the University.

Public comments seemed divided between the few students who were represented and the other members of the community.

Jane Downer said, "One of my main concerns is the need to purchase downtown property while we own property on the west side. It would need to remove commercial buildings from downtown, and remove them from the tax rolls."Downer also said, "I know of people who would refuse to go to Hancher if it means sitting in a parking ramp behind other people," which brought applause from the mostly older audience.

A recent graduate, though, made a point for choosing the location closer to downtown. Brett Edward Stout pointed out, "The current location is already a half mile from every revenue during the day and at night," which could he said could bring in more traffic and business to downtown.

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