vice chancellor for Business & Finance, 308.865.8205
In their request for approval to acquire the property, UNK officials cited safety concerns for students, faculty and staff who drive in to the area, park in nearby parking lots and neighborhoods, then cross Ninth Avenue to access the campus, creating ongoing congestion. Ninth Avenue runs north and south along the eastern edge of the campus. This fall, the opening of a new, 332-bed residential hall complex, Nester Hall, has further increased car and pedestrian traffic in the area.
Describing the safety issues, Barbara Johnson, UNK vice chancellor for Business & Finance, said, “It’s the flow. We’ve studied the traffic in the area for a number of years.” Iteris, a traffic consultant, has been working jointly with UNK and the City of Kearney.
Based on the studies, which show increasing traffic congestion, Iteris has recommended traffic flow changes. In response, UNK administration recommended purchase of the property, which is a parcel approximately 40,014 square feet located along Ninth Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets . A building on the property currently houses a bookstore and a small office. Acquisition of the property and removal of the building will make it possible to reconfigure traffic patterns in the area.
“The only way to control the traffic is to reconfigure the traffic patterns,” Johnson said. A resolution to the Board of Regents noted that, “…the redesign of this area and acquisition of the property is supported by the need to relieve traffic congestion and improve traffic flow considering vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians,” and that “…the City of Kearney shares the concern about traffic flow, congestion and safety, and recognizes the current need to redesign the area.”
The property is currently part of the estate of O.G. “Bob ” Saunders, a former Kearney resident who had relocated to California a number of years ago. Occupants of the building on that property have a lease through 2010.
“The university will negotiate with them to honor the lease,” Johnson said, describing the proposed acquisition as “a formal process.”