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Neighborhood Residents Voice Concerns Over ODU Stadium

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Copyright 2013 Virginian-Pilot Companies LLC
All Rights Reserved

The Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, VA.)
October 18, 2013 Friday
The Virginian-Pilot Edition
LOCAL; Pg. B1
533 words
Neighbors voice fears over ODU redesign

By Bill Sizemore

The Virginian-Pilot

NORFOLK

Residents of the Larchmont neighborhood bombarded an Old Dominion University official with questions and concerns Thursday night about the school's plan for a wholesale redesign of its campus over the next 20 years.

More than 100 people turned out for a presentation of the campus master plan by David Harnage, ODU's chief operating officer, to the Larchmont-Edgewater Civic League at Larchmont United Methodist Church. The meeting had to be moved from a classroom to the sanctuary to accommodate the crowd.

Most of the comments centered on traffic and parking issues surrounding the university's plan to tear down 77-year-old Foreman Field and replace it with a new football stadium on the west end of the campus, adjacent to Larchmont, with 28,000 to 30,000 seats. Powhatan Apartments, a dormitory complex, would be demolished to make room for the structure.

"This is a fait accompli," one resident, Bill Ballard, complained to Harnage. He said the university needs to widen its planning process to consider potential impacts on the neighborhood.

Harnage told the crowd an independent engineering study concluded that it is not feasible to renovate and enlarge Foreman Field to accommodate ODU's planned move to the Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football.

In order to keep the stadium on the present site, "you would have to tear it down and rebuild it," Harnage said.

Several residents zeroed in on a planned 750-car parking garage on Powhatan Avenue across from the proposed new stadium site, worrying about the traffic it would generate.

The garage has nothing to do with the stadium, Harnage assured the crowd. "That's just to support the normal operations of the campus," he said.

Harnage said the university's intent is to concentrate football-related parking along the Hampton Boulevard corridor, four blocks east of the new stadium site, and ferry fans across the campus with a tram system.

Several residents worried that the new stadium would exacerbate what they said is already a nuisance - students and football fans parking on neighborhood streets.

Harnage said ODU would be willing to partner with the civic league to help establish a decal program to control street parking. He also assured the residents that nearby civic leagues will be invited to participate in the planning process for the stadium project.

"We want to be in a community where we respect the communities and the communities respect us," he said.

He also said the new stadium will not be used for outdoor concerts.

The meeting was one in a series that Harnage has been holding on and off campus to present the master plan, the university's first since 1995. It envisions dozens of new buildings - academic, athletic and residential. The plan includes no dollar figures, and officials have not specified how it will be funded.

Bill Sizemore, 757-446-2276,

bill.sizemore@pilotonline.com

where will they park?

Most of the comments at the Larchmont-Edgewater Civic League meeting centered on traffic and parking issues surrounding the university's plan to tear down 77-year-old Foreman Field and replace it with a new football stadium on the west end of the campus.

Michael and Michelle Kellam look over a map of ODU's master plan Thursday at Larchmont United Methodist Church before a presentation by David Harnage, ODU's chief operating officer. Stephen M. Katz photos | The Virginian-Pilot More than 100 ­people attended Thursday night's ­meeting, and many criticized a planned ­parking ­garage on Powhatan Avenue, ­worrying about the traffic it would ­generate. But ODU's representative said the ­garage doesn't have anything to do with the football ­stadium that would go nearby. Bill Ballard, who lives on Longwood Drive, wants to know more about the direct impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
October 19, 2013

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