In fact, there is no perfect location for a new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences building, said Alan Horowitz, chairman of the university committee overseeing long-range planning for engineering and natural sciences.
Planning consultants hired by the university said there is enough space for the engineering college on the university’s main Kenwood campus. But the school is pursuing land in the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa for engineering school research programs because the site offers a chance to create collaborations with the other medical institutions in Wauwatosa, including the Medical College of Wisconsin, Horowitz said.
“While the faculty seems to be in favor of further development on the Kenwood campus, we do have neighbor opposition here as well,” he said. “So it is not a slam dunk. No matter what we’re going to do, people would object.”
William Holahan, chairman of the UW-Milwaukee Economics Department and professor of economics said UW-Milwaukee’s long-range plans show plenty of opportunity to expand the university’s current campus. He said the university should not move ahead with buying the Milwaukee County Grounds land until more research is done.
“The planning process goes on for another year,” he said, “and it’s amazing we would be making commitments when it might not survive that year of planning.”
The Milwaukee County Board is scheduled Thursday to vote on the proposed land sale to the university.
The university still will consider proposals to tear down the Kunkle Center and the Physics Building and construct six new buildings in their place to create more engineering space, Horowitz said. However, any proposal to bring more students or faculty to the Kenwood campus by building in Milwaukee instead of Wauwatosa will threaten parking, he said.
Parking structures would have to be built, and faculty, students and UW-Milwaukee staff, through parking fees, would need to pay for them, Horowitz said.
“The prices are so high we’re starting to lose customers because of the cost,” he said.
Holahan said the proposal to build in Wauwatosa also will increase parking problems at the Kenwood campus. Students or faculty with classes at both campuses would be required to bring a car to the Kenwood campus so they could drive to Wauwatosa, he said.
“It is not easier to address (parking) if you sprawl,” Holahan said. “It is harder to address if you sprawl because the noncar (commuting options) are taken away.”
Holahan suggested more research into how the university could use public buses or private shuttles with 10 or 20 seats to decrease any concerns over parking if the Kenwood campus is built up.