UMD Updates Facilities Master Plan

The UMD administration has completed an “update” to the Facilities Master Plan that reflects changes since the original plan was approved nearly seven years ago. It includes a re-affirmation of many of the original plan’s goals, changes to construction timelines, and tables summarizing changes to campus facilities that have taken place since the 2000 Master Plan. The update also includes updates on the progress of the East Campus Redevelopment Initiative.

The only specific mention the update contains relating to the Purple Line is this text:

“Maximize use of alternatives to driving to campus.”

“Support Purple Line stations on or adjacent to campus consistent with providing central pedestrian movement.”

However, attendees at the recent East Campus Community Review Steering Committee received much different information relating to the Purple Line. Last week, Associate Vice President for Facilities Management J. Frank Brewer gave this presentation containing this illustration overlaying the administration’s preferred Purple Line alignment over the Master Plan map.

Jan28 Presentation Master Plan Illustration

We have several reactions:

1. Is this part of the Master Plan update? If so, it should be included on the official version on the Facilities Master Plan website. If it is not, it should not be presented as such to the public.
2. The map omits the two other alignments under official consideration, making it not a planning document but an argument for one option.
3. The plan presents incomplete and inaccurate information annotated on top of the official master plan map. It includes “2,000 units” at the Knox Box area despite the fact the property remains fragmented in different owners and no specific proposal has been made. Even if the owner of much of the land wants to redevelop it, acquisition, design, and approvals would take perhaps a decade. There is a similar situation for a parcel labeled “600” across from the Architecture Building, no specific proposal has actually been made. It also only includes numbers for housing, not the extensive office and classroom space planned by the university along a new mall.
4. Despite the distortions and omissions above, the irony is the illustration still seems to support a campus drive alignment anyway! If you imagine a Stamp Union station, the 10-minute walking circles would encompass not only the proposed new housing, but also the substantial amount of existing housing on North Campus and excellent access to planned construction there and elsewhere. The university’s plan presents a walking radius that spills over into low density cul-de-sacs to the south.