Arizona State University President Michael Crow is seeking $6 million from Tempe to accommodate the planned expansion of its main campus.
In a strongly worded letter to the Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, the university president rejected plans that called for ASU to pay for more sewer lines and storm drains needed to build additional dormitories and research facilities.
Crow then urged the city to approve funding of the planned infrastructure, that he said is needed if the city intends to grow with the university.
"At a time in which we are developing the vision for the Tempe Campus to almost double in size over the next decade," Crow wrote, "it distresses me to learn the that while the City is beginning to develop the necessary infrastructure plans, we are being asked to bear the brunt of this initial cost in
the range of $6,000,000."
Terri Shafer, assistant vice president of public relations for ASU, said Crow wanted to convey his concern that the city had no plans to pay for the infrastructure needed to expand the campus.
She said the city normally puts up the entire infrastructure cost and ASU is not asking Tempe for special treatment. "We just want them to pay what they normally pay for," Shafer said.
But the university could be coming back to the city for more money as Crow’s vision of a larger campus in downtown Tempe continues to move forward.
"In the near future, ASU will seek additional financial assistance and/or policy support in the areas of student housing, transit- oriented development, traffic calming, gateway development, and street improvements, to mention a few," Crow’s letter states.
Hallman, who has touted Crow’s leadership and vision, said Crow’s letter is the opening of a dialogue between the university and the city.
"Given the source of the request it will receive substantial consideration and should prompt a very focused discussion," Hallman said.
Since taking office in July, Hallman has linked the success of Tempe with the ability of ASU to drive the local economy as well as develop land surrounding Tempe Town Lake.
On Friday, the Arizona Board of Regents approved ASU’s request to spend $5.5 million for nearly three acres of land near the Tempe campus to build additional student housing.
As the main campus has grown over the years, the issue of student housing has loomed large over Tempe’s political landscape, pitting landlords against homeowners concerned that student renters are destroying their neighborhoods.
During his mayoral campaign last spring and in his State of the Community address last week, Hallman said reducing the number of student renters is an important step in revitalizing the historic neighborhoods surrounding campus.