Teaneck approves ‘University Drive’ through Metro campus
By ELIZABETH WHITE
(TEANECK) – On Monday, Sept. 25, the Township of Teaneck Planning Board unanimously approved a plan presented by Boswell Engineering to create a new roadway through the Metropolitan campus, connecting University Circle and Library Circle to “improve driving and pedestrian circulation through its campus,” NorthJersey.com reported.
The new road will be called “University Drive.” It will connect University Circle and Library Circle with a one- way continuous road, owing southbound past University Hall and the Kron building and exiting near the current entrance to Library Circle. Vehicular and pedestrian routes will be separated, university officials said.
The plan for a new road has received unanimous approval from the Teaneck Planning Board, but a formal resolution and approval from the Bergen County Planning Board is still needed. The proposal is expected to be put on the planning board’s schedule in the next six weeks.
The plan also includes monument signs, 23 parking spaces, 87 trees and 672 shrubs, according to NorthJersey.com. The parking spaces will include accessible spaces for handicap vehicles and will be short-term parking, according to Richard Frick, Vice President for Facilities and Auxiliary Services.
The new plan “creates a strong university identity and presence along River Road in Teaneck,” according to Frick.
“It gives us the opportunity to create some outdoor gathering areas, possibly an outdoor classroom, some really nice things for the students,” Frick said
The new concrete walkways will include proper lighting, and the new asphalt road will include designated sidewalks to access University Hall and the Kron Administration buildings.
“It’s important on a campus like this and in any environment to not have those be the same thing,” Frick said.
The speed limit has not yet been determined, and will be set by the Campus Executive and Public Safety, according to Frick.
The first thing built will be the new signage.
“We did get, under the sign waiver system in Teaneck, approval to proceed with the three monument signs,” Frick said. “Those we anticipate getting in this fall.”
New signage will be added to each of the three sections of campus: north, middle, and south.
The monument sign on the north end would be near the Purchasing building and the eld house, indicating an entrance to the university.
“That would be a monument sign with a digital display where we would be able to announce things that were happening on campus,” Frick said.
The middle of the campus, where the road is being built, will have what the facilities plan is temporarily calling “The Oval.”
This signage will mark the official entrance to the university, and will include “a low wall with internally lit signage that says ‘Fairleigh Dickinson University,’” according to Frick.
The southern end of campus, where the Lindens and Student Union Building are, will be getting a new sign to replace the one near Public Safety. It will be a bigger sign that will indicate that visitors are entering the campus.
“That sign becomes the marker: here is where you want to enter,” Frick said.
Frick said the plan seeks to make the campus more visitor friendly.
“We’re trying to organize [the campus] and make it make a little more sense,” Frick said. “Right now it’s kind of confusing but we’re trying to simplify it.”
Frick said the main address for the university, 1000 River Road, currently brings drivers to the flag circle, which is an odd spot in the campus that has no parking and no where to go. The location of the road will give visitors a more formal entrance to the university.
The flags in University Circle will be removed with the construction of the road.
“At this point we don’t have plans to reinstall the flags,” Frick said.
FDU’s Office of the General Counsel sees the road performing a similar function.
“The purpose of this application is to make this portion of the Teaneck campus for Fairleigh Dickinson University more functional, more efficient, more aesthetically pleasing and to add some sustainability aspects,” Jason Tuvel, an attorney for the university, said, according to NorthJersey.com.
NorthJersey.com reported that a Planning Board member asked FDU to include the addition of crosswalks at the intersection of Ramapo Road and River Road (the North entrance) in its application to the county.
In an end-of-year town hall meeting for faculty held last May, then Campus Provost Vodde and President Capuano gave a presentation where they talked about the road being built and signage being added.
Faculty were told that the project would be breaking ground in June and that the campus would have a different look in the fall, according to a faculty member present at the meeting.
There is no specific mention of it in the university’s strategic plan.
In a President’s update on March 27 about strategic plan progress, campus improvements were mentioned, but not specifically a new road through campus.
“We are also planning to commence a much-needed perimeter improvement project at the Metropolitan Campus this summer, pending anticipated municipal approvals in both Teaneck and Hackensack,” President Capuano said in the update. “Improvements will include new monument signs that will be constructed at key locations on campus, new and more directional signage, fencing and other perimeter identification, as well as other landscape improvements,” Capuano said.
Frick said that the road was not specifically mentioned because the strategic plan does not go into those kinds of specific details.
“The facilities pieces are a little bit separate but need to support the strategic plan. The strategic plan is more of a general academic, general administrative [plan],” Frick said. “A lot of the things we do are in support of the strategic plan, but something of that nature can’t afford to get into the nitty gritty of the facilities pieces.”
The cost of the project has yet to be determined.
“The final cost of the project is yet to be determined, but it will be a few million dollars for sure,” President Capuano said in an email to The Equinox. “We will pay for these improvements out of operating dollars that have been budgeted for campus improvements.”