by Carlos Pedraza
On Wednesday, Sept. 14th the Cal Poly Humboldt Facilities Management and Smith Group in Nelson Hall presented their physical campus plan for expanding the campus to the community. The plan is in the discovery phase.
The forum was led by Associate Vice President of Facilities management Mike Fisher. A full work plan was shown beginning with the forum and ending in July 2024 when the final plan will be presented.
During the forum, students and community members asked questions of plans. A major concern from the community was housing. Throughout, there were questions and shouts about housing. When Fisher addressed the question and made the point that the University wants to work with the town of Arcata, a man in the crowd shouted, “It’s been a problem for 40 years,” referring to the housing crisis in Humboldt county.
Ed Fitzgerald, a retiree who has lived in Humboldt since 1973, said, “Adding more housing on the existing infrastructure is not a good idea, we need more infrastructure.”
In regard to housing, Fisher said, “You find a lot of the housing inventory has been absorbed by single family homes by non-students and that’s driving difficulties.”
Fisher went on to state that to solve the housing problem will require a community effort with the university.
Candance Kelsey, a Humboldt alumni and local business owner, inquired how the plan would keep money local and in the community. Fisher responded, explaining there is public bidding and other opportunities for smaller businesses to work with the university.
“When there are suitable candidates that can [fulfill the bid], then they’re in the running,” Fisher said.
Staff from the Student Disability Resource Center also brought up accessibility issues on campus and maintenance of current housing. Another question asked by a student was the plan for gender neutral and inclusive bathrooms.
The student speaker said, “I have to go five minutes away to use the bathroom for my classes.”
Audience member Arlene Wynn also asked for shower facilities for gender neutral students.
Rosa Sheng, a presenter from Smith Group, responded, “In our work as architects, the next phase of design is the inclusive all gender design.”
She explained how the planning wants to add gender inclusive bathrooms and lactation rooms in the new buildings and current ones.
Throughout the meeting students entered and left as classes started, repeatedly asking for the hour-and-a-half long forum to be at a more appropriate time for students and those who work 9 to 5 jobs. Fisher acknowledged the comments.
The physical campus plan website is the point of contact for students, community members, and organizations to express their concerns or views to the University.