UNK- A long sought-after piece of property along the east side of the campus has officially become property of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, according to Barbara Johnson, UNK vice chancellor for Business and Finance.
Ownership of the land by the university will now make it possible to address safety concerns in the area, ease traffic flow and create a main entrance to the campus. The parcel, which is comprised of the west end of the 800 block between 25th and 26th Streets, had been part of the O.G. “Bob” Saunders estate since Saunders passed away in 2007. The university was given possession of the property, effective Aug. 22.
“All plans for development in the area are preliminary until we work with consultants to develop the full-blown entrance into the campus,” Johnson said. “We have a long way to go to reconfigure the plan.” Because any changes in traffic flow in the area will involve city streets and a state highway, planning for the area will involve the City of Kearney and the State Highway Department as well as the university.
The newly acquired property is divided into three sections–lawn on the north, an unoccupied building on the south and a small parking lot in the center. According to Johnson, the north end will remain green space, as per University of Nebraska Board of Regents directive. The parking area, however, has been freshly marked and will be open for 24-hour student parking beginning Monday, Aug. 31. Seventeen spaces that had been set aside for student parking in a parking lot (Lot #8) just east of the newly acquired property will return to faculty/staff parking, only.
Plans for removal of the unoccupied building are underway. University officials will inspect the unoccupied building early next week to begin demolition plans.
“We will proceed very cautiously to demolish the building,” Johnson said, noting, “The roof is so fragile that it’s a concern for the safety of people walking by.” The building perimeter is currently fenced to keep passersby at a safe distance from the structure.
Although ownership of the parcel has been transferred to the university, the final cost of the property is still being determined. An appraisal by a panel of three experts appointed by the Buffalo County Court set the value at $480,000. However, the Saunders family has since filed an appeal in Buffalo County District Court. That appeal is still pending.