Merchants, residents blast UA proposal

By J. Ferguson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Concerned Sixth Street merchants and residents attended a public meeting at Mansfield Middle School auditorium to discuss the fate of their homes and businesses with UA officials Thursday.

Homes and businesses along East Sixth Avenue between North Campbell Avenue and North Euclid Avenue could be demolished to make room for classrooms, a parking structure and recreation fields.

The planned recreation fields came under fire by many Rincon Heights residents who stated the university was being insensitive to the residents by destroying their homes and planting grass so students have a field to play intramural sports on.

Bruce Wright, UA's director for Community Services and Economic Development, defended the university's plans, stating the university had an obligation to 7,000 students who lived on campus.

"As a residential campus, we have an obligation to provide certain recreational space to our residents," Wright said.

Wright said the UA once tried to move some activities to outlying city parks, but city residents complained to the university about noise and space conflicts.

The UA has no agreement with the Rincon Heights Association concerning existing boundaries.

Although the UA's land use proposal outlines in general terms what each area will be developed for, it doesn't say how much space will be allotted for commercial development.

Many merchants said that they felt the university's plan, which would turn university land over to a private developer to build and lease commercial space, may be too expensive for the businesses to survive the transition. Many merchants said they thought the rent in the new buildings would price them out of the UA area.

Wright said the university's primary concerns for expansion were for the students, not private businesses.

Both businesses and residents asked when the university would begin developing the property if the proposal was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents.

University officials at the meeting said they did not know when the projects would begin. Although according to university documents, the university is already behind in terms of major projects listed in their five-year plan.

Wright said he hoped to present the regents with the new boundaries at their January meeting.

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