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Athletic facility’s construction to result in fewer homes in Buckeye Village

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The Ohio State Board of Trustees Master Planning and Facilities Committee met Nov. 3 in the Sanders Grand Lounge at the Longaberger Alumni House in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: Mitch Hooper

The Ohio State Board of Trustees Master Planning and Facilities Committee met Nov. 3 in the Sanders Grand Lounge at the Longaberger Alumni House in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: Mitch Hooper

On Oct. 28, Buckeye Village resident Hannah Sayre received an email from the Office of Student Life, stating, starting in June, 18 percent of Buckeye Village apartments will be demolished for construction of the Covelli Multi-Sport Arena.

The email said the plans had to be approved by the Board of Trustees, which met Nov. 3.

“They didn’t tell us there was going to be a vote. It said the Board meets to approve this plan before it can be put into action, but I didn’t realize until 5 days after I got the email that they haven’t actually voted yet,” said Sayre, a doctoral candidate in chemistry. “I looked it up and found it out on my own.”

Buckeye Village offers student family housing to Ohio State graduate students. The plan for the Covelli Multi-Sport Arena is set to cost $30 million. University spokesman Chris Davey said originally the plan was to have two separate facilities, but after working over the summer with trustees and athletic director Gene Smith, they came up with the idea to combine the facilities, cutting down costs by $10 million.

“Two facilities in one slightly expands the footprint, which is part of the reason the facility will require the removal of six Buckeye Village apartment buildings,” Davey said.

“It shows a total lack of understanding of the uniqueness of Buckeye Village … It’s for families and kids. People in charge are not aware of what the Village is. It’s different.” —Gabriel Murdoch, Buckeye Village resident  and graduate student in Portuguese

Davey highlighted the benefits of one facility in a unified athletic district will have for student athletes.

“The Athletics District … allows us to better serve our 800 student athletes on campus,” he said. “We’ll have a centralized facility and services for athletes, for example, tutoring, nutrition and of course practice and performance space.”

Davey said the athletic facility is part of a vision OSU began pursuing in their Framework 2.0 plan.

“We’ve been moving in this direction for some time,” Davey said. “The idea that at some point the athletics district could result in removal of portions of Buckeye Village was something that was contained in the master-plan years ago.”

Gabriel Mordoch, a Buckeye Village resident and graduate student in Portuguese, said he felt a disconnect between the university and Buckeye Village residents.

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An illustration shows the seating arrangement for the Covelli Multi-Sport Arena. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

“This project … is being considered like any other housing on campus,” said Mordoch, who has been living in Buckeye Village for five years. Mordoch highlighted safety concerns of children living in a construction area. He said he spoke with trustee Alexander Fischer about his concerns after the Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 3.

“(Fischer) said if undergraduates did not want to live in a construction area, we would not have new dorms on Lane Avenue and High Street, because they were constructed while students were on campus,” Mordoch said. “It shows a total lack of understanding of the uniqueness of Buckeye Village … It’s for families and kids. People in charge are not aware of what the Village is. It’s different.”

Sayre echoed Mordoch’s sentiments of Buckeye Village.

“I think our community is really special,” said Sayre, who has two children. “It’s comforting to have neighbors who are in a similar situation, we’re all in this grad school-parenting situation together and we can help each other out. We know what each other is going through and it’s not easy to be in grad school and be a parent.”

Mordoch emphasized financial benefits of student family housing.

“My colleagues that don’t have families, they have much more time to work, to research, so having affordable housing helps balancing this lack of time,” Mordoch said. “Let’s say a mother that is also a student, she needs a couple of hours of her day to take care of her children. So she cannot work the same amount of hours as a student without a family. So she cannot earn the same amount of money, so if she has affordable housing, she can balance.”

Rent for a one bedroom apartment at Buckeye Village is $535 per month. A two bedroom apartment goes for $675 per month. All utilities, including internet, are included. Sayre emphasized the location as well.

“Commute is really important,” she said. “If I was going to get the same quality of housing, I would have to move farther away. So I’d have a 45 minute commute probably, and see my children much less. There are some graduate students who are working from 6 or 7 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m., and if you’re a parent, you can’t do that.”

Davey said there will be no changes to the current housing contracts, which end May 15. Students in impacted buildings will be offered an apartment in another part of Buckeye Village. Moving services will be provided by Student Life, Davey said. Students who wish to move will be let out of their contract without penalty.

“With just losing about a fifth of units, there should be space in remaining units for those who wish to remain,” Davey said.

Sayre disputed the effectiveness.

“But I still think that’s a problem because they aren’t allowing new students with children to come in, and that disproportionately affects women and minority students,” she said.

Sayre and Mordoch said they took issue with apartments being torn down without plans for more housing to be built.

“These specific changes were only communicated (to the Council of Graduate Students and Buckeye Village residents) in the last few weeks as we were preparing to bring the plan to the Board of Trustees,” Davey said. “It was very important that we communicate this to residents, and broady well in advance. This is six months out from removal.”

Davey said there will be monthly construction update meetings at Buckeye Village, along with Student Life and Council of Graduate Students will host a “listening session” with residents in upcoming weeks “to continue to seek feedback about future needs.”

“We’re doing everything we can to work with residents,” Davey said.

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