University of Utah officials say they will be "sensitive" to military dependents living at Fort Douglas when they take possession of at least 55 acres of the fort.
President Chase N. Peterson will soon appoint a task force of faculty, staff and students to develop a comprehensive plan for use of the fort's property and its buildings, Vice President for Administrative Services Walter P. Gnemi told the U. Institutional Council this week.Under the Military Construction Appropriations Act, signed last week by President Bush, the U. will receive at least 55 acres of the fort from the federal government by Nov. 1, 1991. The Army will retain up to 64 acres of the fort, including the four-acre cemetery.
Included in the U.'s acreage will be 61 housing units. The military residents living in those units have expressed anger at the short notice of the transfer, saying they believed it wouldn't happen until 1993.
"The U. hopes to approach this is a very sensitive manner . . . a manner least disruptive to those folks who are living there. Simultaneously, we will try to determine the best use of the land for the U.," Gnemi said.
Gnemi said officials hope to be flexible enough in developing a transfer plan so that the residents may be able to live at the fort past the year deadline. Under the new law's provisions, the land transfer must occur within one year.
Gnemi said he is still trying to gather all of the relevant information relating to the transfer.
But, he said, it appears the U. will receive, except for a strip of land, the bulk of fort property north of Hempstead Road. The Army will retain the property south of the Hempstead Road.
Gnemi said that means the U. will take possession of the housing units, the chapel, the officers' club, the military museum and the parade field.
Under the law's provisions, the U. must maintain and preserve the fort's buildings, which are on the National Historic Registry. It must also keep the parade field in tact.
The state, possibly the National Guard, will continue to operate the military museum, Gnemi said.
While the U. is not committed to any particular use of the property, one possible suggestion, pushed by Peterson, has been the establishment of a residential college, where honors students and faculty would be housed together.
The concept, designed to promote a free exchange of ideas between faculty and students, has been pioneered successfully elsewhere.
"That's a logical use, but whether we could put in the financing and everything else that goes with it remains to be seen," Gnemi said.