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Friday, January 12, 2007

Monmouth U. moves to save the MAC - Latest Asbury Park Press MAC runs Saturday appears our lead Press columist Bill Handleman is about to weigh into the issue in a column on Sunday on the side of the MAC...

WHAT"S NEXT? Monmouth University officials will ask the zoning Board of Adjustment to
reconsider its Dec. 14 vote that threatens the school's plan for a $34 million multi-purpose
activities center next to Boylan Gymnasium.


WEST LONG BRANCH … Monmouth University President Paul G. Gaffney II, noting ""reasonable
people can come to reasonable accommodations,'' will ask the borough's zoning Board of
Adjustment to reconsider the school's plan for a new activities and athletic center.

During a press conference Friday on campus, Gaffney unveiled plans for a scaled-down multi
purpose activities center, one that has 720 fewer seats, down to 4,122, and one in which there
would be only 12 ""capacity'' events there a year, down from the original 25.

Capacity events are those in which 4,000 or more people are expected to attend in the arena
which would house basketball games, an indoor running track, the university bookstore,
athletic department offices, Varsity Club, classrooms and a fitness center. (The fitness
center would be available to the public on a membership basis.)

Under the old design, the center had 4,842 seats, which is down from the 6,000 initially
envisioned, a plan that was not financially doable, Gaffney explained.

After nearly a year of hearings, the zoning board Dec. 14 voted 4 to 3 to approve the plan.
Because the application involved a use variance and required five affirmative votes for
approval, it failed. The board members who opposed the application - Ellen Anfuso, Douglas
Bostwick and John M. Aria - are all relatively recent appointments to the board.

They did not offer specific reasoning for their votes which left the college without a firm
idea of what sort of revision would please the zoners. While Gaffney said he would never
criticize the board members who as volunteer public servants are doing ""God's work,'' he said
""we got sort of a feeling smaller would be better.''

They chose the number because they need a place where the entire undergraduate study body
could gather for convocations and meetings, and there are approximately 4,000 undergraduate
students at Monmouth.

The school will ask the board at its Jan. 25 meeting to reconsider its vote. The meeting
begins at 7:30 p.m. in Borough Hall, 965 Broadway, and Gaffney said the motion for
reconsideration, which is available for review in the borough clerk's office, is being made
now before the board memorializes, or formalizes, its Dec. 14 action.

Other proposed changes to the operation of the three-story, 65-foot tall building include a
stipulation that the school will not use the MAC and the Boylan gym at the same time for
events attended by the general public although the small Boylan gym could conduct, say a small
gathering such as a yoga class while events were going on next door at the MAC.

""We wouldn't have a rock concert in Boylan gym at the same time we were playing Seton
Hall'' in basketball, Gaffney said.

The school also agrees that the MAC would be available for use by organized borough citizen
groups as requested by the Borough Council; that the university police department and the
borough police will file with the Borough Council an annual report on traffic and parking
issues and that in every situation when the university anticipates or sells at least 3,000
tickets for a MAC event, it will notify borough police in advance and follow parking and
traffic controls established by the department.

Such protocols include posting ""no parking'' signs on certain streets, to minimize
inconveniences to neighbors, and paying for additional police or security for traffic control.

Such changes will make for a better MAC, said Gaffney.

""It is going to be a first-rate venue and a place of destination for our existing
population,'' Gaffney said of the 152,400-square-foot facility, to be built with a combination
of public and private funds. In the president's view, the MAC also could help attract
potential students, enhancing the school's reputation as well as the community's.

""When you have a great university, everybody benefits from that,'' he said.

The MAC's site - in the heart of the campus - was chosen specifically for that reason, he
said. For that reason, it can not be located off-site, he explained.

Further, to relocate the MAC to a non-university location would mean the school would not
only have to pay for construction but also for land acquisition.

The center is needed for the school to remain competitive, particularly in the National
Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletic program, officials said. There are 19
Division 1 teams at Monmouth.

He called the school's existing facilities ""near the bottom of the barrel'' and said many
high schools have better to offer their athletes.

""The point I'm making is we're not being extravagant, we're just trying to be competitive
with everybody else,'' Gaffney said. The locker rooms, for example, are ""in really bad shape.
They're subterranean. You worry about health down there.''

During hearings for the arena, which would be built on two temporary parking lots in the
center of campus northeast of Boylan Gymnasium, neighbors complained of noise, parking and
traffic concerns.

Gaffney said the school already has demonstrated it can deal with such issues without
taxing the nearby neighborhoods. (The MAC is to be located 647 feet from the nearest homes.)

At the Dec. 2 Gridiron Classic, 5,000 people attended, without incident, he said.

""We worked with West Long Branch police and there was no problem,'' Gaffney said. ""As far
as I know, there were no complaints.''

Gaffney said he is very hopeful this proposal will find common ground.

""The idea is we're all neighbors,'' he said.



Blogger Tony Graham said...

Well...what do you think?

Will WLB agree with MU "concessions", or does this wind up in court (where MU wins, but it takes longer to go through the legal process).

11:41 PM, January 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just waiting for your buddy (Monroe Fisher -- and friends) to pop out of their living rooms and start whining the same whine again.

I say get it to court, where reason will prevail, and hit WLB with the original proposal -- 6000 seat arena!

9:29 AM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous FL MU/C ALUM said...

Let's hope and pray this plan works.
If it is scaled down any further it will be a new Boylan Gym.
It they are still determined to slay the university, then I say it is time for the courts to decide.

10:48 AM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see Handleman name the WLB board members who vetoed the MAC!

At the same time, I think MU is making a mistake settling for a 4100 seat gym. I know for the foreseeable future (and for the sake of getting MAC built) that will be more than enough. But with the ever-talked-about hope of 'moving up' to a higher conference, I think we'll be once again at the bottom of the barrel, facility-wise.
Hope they think this one through.

12:37 PM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

Unless MU is going very "Big Time," Big East, A-10, etc. - 4,100 is fine in my opinion.

12:44 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still amazed that the West Long branch folks belive that we will have capacity crowds. I've been a hawks fan for over 13 years and have attended every hi-profile basketball game. Not once did I ever have a problem getting out of the parking lot. NEVER...and I mean NEVER have I seen one car parked on a side street. These people are just so onesided and they dont even get it. Its a shame that we have to scale down an arena that will be certainly become Boylan Gym II after a few years. I agree with the person who said if we ever plan to move up and play larger teams our facility has to match. We can't think short sided and build something for the short term because it will only come back to haunt us down the road. The courts should settle this and shut those people up once and for all. I'll make sure i give a little beep of the horn when I drive past their homes after each hawk victory.

2:29 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the subtractions make a big difference...Monmouth is definitely in need of new athletic facilities and I am glad to hear that President Gaffney knows it. However, if this does not work out I think it is time for MU to bring this to court.

2:49 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer will be NO,The Mayor has told everyone "NO NO NO to anything to do with Monmouth " When will people wake up and understand she HATES MONMOUTH today and for ever.Good idea but the results will be the same,see you in court.

3:09 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good move by pres. Gaffney!

Let's see what phony excuses WLB comes up with this time when they vote this one down! When we get to that point I hope the gloves come off from MU!

3:42 PM, January 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why cut and run ? WLB board will say NO .Why doesn't MU stand up and fight? It's time to stop trying to be a reasonable these folks don't want any part of MU.

7:47 PM, January 13, 2007  

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