Urban Planning and Transportation Systems students study vacant lot near UW-Superior campus - Apr 12, 2011 - Center for Academic Service-Learning - UW-Superior News and Events

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Center for Academic Service - Learning

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Urban Planning and Transportation Systems students study vacant lot near UW-Superior campus

Posted on Apr 12, 2011

Students from the University of Wisconsin-Superior are working with officials from the city of Superior to study the overflowing residence halls at UW-Superior by looking at future housing on the lot of former Central High School.

Every two years in Dr. Richard Stewart and Dr. Randy Gabrys-Alexson's Urban Planning and Transportation Systems class, students collaborate with the Center for Academic Service-Learning to choose a project about a community issue.  The economic situation at the time is also taken into consideration when selecting the project.

Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) is an innovative teaching strategy that provides students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge and learn new skills by matching academic goals to the needs of community organizations or small businesses. Students in an AS-L course apply concepts and skills they learn in the classroom and give that knowledge back to the community. In return, they gain practical experience while serving others.

The students in the class are working with the planning director of Superior, Jason Serck, on what is needed most in the community.  

This semesters project collaborated with the Duluth Transit Authority (DTA).  Students rode the DTA bus to and from the UW-Superior campus to determine what would work best in the former Central High School vacant lot.

Central High School once served as a high school in Superior and later was transferred into a junior high.  The City Redevelopment Authority, the RJS Group, and the owners of the Blaine Business Center own the now vacant lot, which is located on the corner of Belknap Street and Grand Avenue.

Issues were raised on multiple different levels of what would work best for this lot.  If tertiary services such as restaurants and retail stores were built, would the UW-Superior campus be able to support such ventures.  The students used these questions and talked to professionals familiar with the situation.

Research was also conducted on how to improve the existing bus stops on campus and at the vacant lot.  "It is impossible to study urban planning without looking at how transportation evolves," said Gabrys-Alexson.

After compiling all the information, students and the planning board came to the conclusion that the best vision for this vacant lot would be something to tie in with the community of students at UW-Superior and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College and also with the community of Superior.

During the second half of the semester, students are collecting input on how student housing on this vacant lot could benefit people who want to live close to campus but not necessarily in university residence halls.

On May 9, the public will be invited to an informational presentation on the results of the studies, followed by a question-and-answer session of how this project could eventually become a reality.

"I have faith in the students that they will have solid research for the community," said Gabrys-Alexson. 
News Contact: Britta Bloomquist | Bbloomq3{atuws}
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