Your View: Guest Column - HPU answers community concerns

Jan. 15, 2014 @ 07:36 PM

BY DON SCARBOROUGH

On Monday night, High Point University and our neighbors had a constructive conversation about HPU’s future and how it will positively impact our city. For those of you who attended, thank you for your input. For those of you who couldn’t make it, I’d like to share a few of the important topics we discussed.
In another letter published in The High Point Enterprise (Your View, Dec. 22), I explained the importance of closing the segment of Montlieu Avenue from North College Drive to North Centennial Street to accommodate two new major programs (pharmacy and health sciences) plus an undergraduate science facility which will bring 125 new jobs to the area, in addition to 700 new students, increasing the university’s economic impact to more than $500 million a year.
Closing this section of Montlieu is necessary in order to allow for the depth of these laboratory buildings and to ensure the safety of the 6,200 pedestrian crossings that will take place daily. In fact, because of the large volume of university pedestrians, some safety officials have suggested they would be more concerned if the road were not closed.
One of the biggest concerns has been over emergency response times. Monday night, High Point’s city manager and fire chief clarified that closing the road will not delay response times. As they explained, the closure will not interfere with or slow down response times for EMS, fire or police vehicles. The use of GPS systems and “roaming” EMS and police vehicles ensures that the same quick response times High Point residents receive now will continue.
There were also questions about the cost and the city’s financial investment into this project. The city of High Point has no financial investment in the closing. The university will assume all costs for the road. The university also pays the city full price for its utilities (totaling $4 million a year) and pays property taxes on facilities like the mall.
Some ask why we don’t build the new schools on the Oak Hollow Mall site. The reason is: We can’t. The university owns some of the mall space, not all of it. HPU does not own two of the major anchor stores or the parking around them. Without total ownership of the entire mall complex, new construction or even major upgrades are impossible. Due to elapsed timelines for accreditations, it is now impossible to use the mall for graduate programs even if these spaces become available.
We at High Point University are proud to call ourselves “High Point’s University.” Our students, faculty and staff live and work here, volunteer their time here (contributing more than 100,000 hours of service each year), invest in local schools and attract some 80,000 visitors a year who learn to love this hospitable city as much as we do. We appreciate our High Point neighbors, inviting all to campus for complimentary cultural, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, family and athletic events throughout the year.
A growing university means a growing city. Already, HPU’s growth has created 800 new jobs and increased the local economic impact to almost half a billion dollars a year. In this new year, we are ready to move to the next level by expanding our graduate school programs and offering additional master’s and doctoral degrees.
With your prayerful cooperation, we will continue to work together for the betterment of our city and our university.

Don Scarborough is High Point University’s vice president for community relations.