3/3/2011: ORI needs a new building. Fail. UO’s Riverfront Research Park needs to fill one of its many empty sites. Fail. Eugene’s environmentalists need to lose their reputation for ensuring nothing ever gets built here. Fail. UO needs to lose its reputation for sleazy real estate deals. Fail. President Lariviere needs to build trust with the students and faculty and the press too. Fail, fail. Even the RG thinks UO botched this. Who’s portfolio was it? Randy Geller?
March 3, 2011
Students Ask Attorney General to Protect their Voice Regarding Riverfront Property
The Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO) have petitioned Attorney General John Kroger to allow the student organization to seek independent legal counsel to ensure that students have a voice in the use of university property.
At issue is a controversial proposal to construct a private office building and large parking lot for the Oregon Research Institute on publicly owned land along the Willamette River — just upstream from the Eugene Water & Electric Board property.
For more than twenty years, students have opposed development next to the Willamette River in the University of Oregon’s Riverfront Research Park.
“The university wants to build a private office building that will destroy open space along the riverfront and cost taxpayers more money than they get from leasing the property. How does that benefit students?” asks Nathan Howard, ASUO’s environmental advocate.
Concerned that the university has violated local laws and contractual obligations, students and faculty unanimously passed a resolution in November asking University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere to comply with Eugene city code, an intergovernmental agreement, and the land transfer conditions established by the State Board of Higher Education. Each of these require public review or public involvement prior to developments along the river.
The President failed to respond to the substance of the concerns raised in these resolutions. The ASUO finds the administration’s response insufficient in addressing these issues and remains unconvinced that the university has complied with local laws and the terms of these agreements.
Under state law the ASUO must use the Attorney General’s legal services unless doing so would create a conflict of interest. The ASUO maintains that since the Attorney General has and will continue to provide legal counsel for the university administration in matters regarding the Riverfront Research Park, it cannot also serve the interest of students. ASUO President Amelie Rousseau asserts, “This is an issue of students’ rights. We want to make sure that university land is used in ways that will benefit students. The university has had many opportunities to respond to the community’s concerns, but has not done so adequately.”
The City of Eugene recently issued building permits for the first phase of construction and the university hopes to begin construction as soon as possible.
Connecting Eugene, a broad-based group of concerned community members–including students, faculty, and alumni–filed a notice of intent to take legal action on February 22 to reverse the issuance of the building permit on grounds that the project is inconsistent with the Research Park’s Conditional Use Permit and master plan.
The ASUO has not yet taken any legal action on this matter but seeks legal counsel to assess whether or not to participate in the lawsuit.
For further information contact: Amelie Rousseau, ASUO President: 503-720-5201, firstname.lastname@example.org
Allen Hancock, Connecting Eugene: email@example.com