Chalk up another DePauw victory at the Lilly Center

Wednesday, March 13, 2013



DePauw's Lilly Physical Education and Recreation Center was the scene of another big triumph for the university Monday night.

Granted, this time the victory wasn't accompanied by cheering masses and exuberant coeds cutting down the nets in celebration, but it was a triumph of significance nonetheless.

For with the thrill of victory still ringing in the ears of the DePauw faithful following Saturday's effort by the women's basketball team in earning a trip to the Final Four, the Lilly Center was the scene of an off-court win for the university Monday.

A previously tabled off-street parking proposal, submitted to the City of Greencastle by the university to accommodate expansion of the Lilly Center, received unanimous approval Monday night from the Greencastle City Plan Commission.

At its Feb. 25 meeting, the Plan Commission had sent DePauw officials back to the drawing board on their off-street parking plan.

Per city ordinance, City Planner Shannon Norman explained, the Plan Commission has the discretion to approve what it deems an "adequate" number of parking spaces for the project.

Originally Norman employed the parking requirement formula in the city zoning ordinance as it might have applied to a private fitness center locating in town (one parking spot for every 200 square feet of space). That translated to a need for 514 DePauw spaces to encompass all uses within the Lilly Center, which has no on-site parking of its own.

"There is the potential to have shared parking," Norman acknowledged in reference to parking around the Blackstock Stadium area that is not used most of the year.

In the University (UN) zoning district, DePauw would be allowed to count any off-street spaces "within 500 feet of the lot occupied by the use for which they are required."

The total number of shared parking spaces within 500 feet of the facility, allowable because there is no on-site parking available, is 421 spaces, Norman said.

"They came up with 50 additional spots -- there may be two or three more based on my anticipated plan review," Norman told the Banner Graphic. "They intend to use the 355 spaces at the new athletic complex (across Jackson Street) as overflow and bus parking."

Audra Blasdel, director of community relations and auxiliary services for DePauw, presented a revised Lilly Center parking plan Monday night that includes 226 spaces in the combined parking area designated for the Peeler Art Center, facilities maintenance building and the West Lilly lot.

Where previously there had been 174 parking spots, expanding and combining those lots and reconfiguring the spaces and traffic flow within them has yielded a total of 226 proposed spaces (approximately 52 new spots).

DePauw resisted the temptation to further encroach on the adjacent neighborhood with more parking lots or any elimination of green space, Blasdel said.

"We felt it was very wrong," she said, to consider building a series of small parking lots right next to houses the university doesn't own.

In revising its parking proposal, DePauw officials focused on three primary goals, Blasdel noted.

She listed those goals as providing adequate parking for DPU facilities, assuring that any further development not encroach on the neighborhood or adjacent green space and that the overall project "reflect the incentive for a walkable, green community."

Meanwhile, for further off-street Lilly Center parking, DePauw can count the 102 spaces in the lot off Olive Street south of the Lilly Center and 79 spaces in the Julian Science and Math Center lot north of the physical education facility.

"It looks to me as though they've addressed the problem," Plan Commission President Bill Hamm said, noting that "quite a few spaces" had been added within the 500-foot circumference of the Lilly Center.

Those included the 50-52 additional in the Peeler lot area and 67 Blackstock spots counted within 500 feet of Lilly.

"Regardless," City Attorney Laurie Robertson pointed out, "you still have to answer the underlying question, 'Is it adequate?'"

Commission member Matt Welker believed it so, offering a motion to approve the proposed parking plan with a second from Mike Murphy.

Welker told DPU officials he "appreciated the extra parking provided and the better design."

Donnie Watson, the most outspoken Commission member against the plan at the Feb. 25 meeting, helped make passage unanimous but not before cautioning DePauw officials about forthcoming proposals for Phase II and III parking.

"I struggle with the 'adequacy' part of it," Watson said. "I appreciate the efforts you've made to bring it closer (to the full parking space requirement). I'll say 'yes' this time, knowing that next time will be a lot tougher."

Besides Walker, Murphy, Hamm and Watson, also voting in favor of the parking proposal were Mark Hammer, Jack Murtagh, Mayor Sue Murray, and Wayne Lewis, newest member of the board.

Lewis, who was sworn in by Mayor Murray to start Monday's proceedings, replaces Kathy Ferrand as the Putnam County Commissioners' appointee to the city planning body.

As is his nature, Lewis wasn't shy about jumping into the fray.

In voting in favor of the proposal, Lewis said he has been a neighbor of DePauw at his West Walnut Street Road residence for 32 years. The university, he said, "has been nothing but a good neighbor."

Plan Commission members Eric Wolfe and Tim Trigg abstained because of employment or contract work with the university.

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