And so, the cycle repeats. More than a decade after its conception, the University Village is finally complete, despite the City of Coral Gables’ best efforts to prevent this. Now, after years of struggling to complete the Village, the City’s Planning Board is once again making it extra hard for the University to do what they want, and in some sense, need to do.
The city recently voted against and dealt a heavy blow to UM’s ambitious UMCAD (University of Miami Campus Area Development) project (see pg. 3), which will, at best, indefinitely delay all future construction plans for the Coral Gables campus. Included in these plans were much-needed improvements to UM’s two areas of great concern: parking and on-campus housing. Also included was the plan for the new Student Activity Center that everyone has already been told, perhaps a bit prematurely, to expect finished by 2009.
Is it really surprising after all? It should come as no big surprise that UM is going to suffer for political reasons. The elected commissioners, though directly responsible for the vote, are not the ones trying to kill UM’s ambitions-it is the residents. These residents, whose voices were certainly heard in City Hall, have a history with the university that has left them bitter and cynical to any new UM construction, no matter how little it may affect them. The aforementioned University Village was dreaded because of expected disturbances. Have these fears come true? No. In the weeks after the Village opened its first apartments there were no complaint reports, something the administration stated with pride-and rightfully so. Yet they continue to doubt our proposals.
The City of Coral Gables is not the only one to blame, however. With the rejection of the UMCAD project, the university has once again shown a lack of foresight and preparation for potential future obstacles. Like an overanxious little-leaguer trying to swing for the fences, the university went up in front of the Planning Board with a single proposal with 25 individual amendments, 20 of which are construction projects, in an all-or nothing attempt to pass everything in one fell swoop, only to whiff and send the bat flying into the stands.
And for what? UM was sent home for, above all else, not having up-to-date traffic reports to accompany their proposal, a silly and avoidable setback that is now responsible for stalling all future construction plans until a new report can be accumulated and analyzed, which takes months. It is curious that UM could not have predicted that their all-for-one deal would fail.
Could it be, perhaps, that we are trying to grow too big and too fast for our own good?
The university should, by all means, continue to strive for its additions. Now that the school has run a wildly successful Momentum campaign, it would be a shame to squander all their hard work. But their proposal begs the question: Is all this really necessary? How much is too much?
The more our university assesses these questions, and the better answers they come up for them, the less painful the quest to improve our infrastructure and facilities will be.
On the bright side, however, it appears the Rat may stay standing for at least a few more months.