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Crossroads Commission on Education plans road to UHV's expansion

JULIAN CAVAZOS

By JULIAN CAVAZOS
April 6, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Updated April 5, 2010 at 11:06 p.m.


Let's pretend it's 2014.

The University of Houston Victoria has its own separate campus.

A handful of academic buildings and student housing sit on nearly 360,000 square feet of the allotted 300 acres off Airline Road near the airport.

About 6,400 students are enrolled.

Later on, UHV could grow further, maybe with a student union, library, recreation center and athletic fields could be constructed.

Could this happen someday? The Crossroads Commission on Education believes it could.

At its meeting Tuesday, the commission presented this conceptual model as a sample of what UHV could look like in its future.

"Nothing is an obstacle to keep us from trying to maximize this opportunity," said Mayor Will Armstrong at the meeting. "This time we have every reason to be prepared for success. We should hope for nothing less."

None of the presentation is set in stone or approved by the UH System or the state.

"This is strictly a plan," said Dennis Patillo, president of Stewart Title and Crossroads commission member.

Before UHV can get its own campus, many things would need to happen, the commission members said.

UHV would need the approval of the University of Houston System Board of Regents, adequate state funding, have more students enrolled, and would need the support of the community.

The commission discussed the recommended location for UHV, which is off Airline Road if it were to be extended toward the airport.

"We're very fortunate in this site in that we have a very cooperative landowner," said Tom Schmidt, president of Urban Engineering. "The Buhler family has offered us 100 acres and has given us the option to purchase 200 more."

If UHV does have its own site, the current buildings would still be used, said Clay Cain, a local attorney.

"These buildings will continued to be used by UHV," Cain said. "There's not going to be abandonment of those buildings or expectations that Victoria College would have a need to take them over, purchase them, or transfer them for Victoria College's use."

The current UHV buildings, as well as an unoccupied lot owned by UHV, could be used for a small business development center or a workforce training center, Cain said.

In terms of public infrastructure, expanding UHV could increase the tax base, Armstrong said.

"Right now to the best of my knowledge, the University of Houston downward expansion in Victoria is our best bet for increasing the tax base, bar none," the mayor said. "Add more students and our tax base will increase dramatically."

Recently, the Victoria city council restructured its capital improvements plan and has set aside $8 million for the extension of Airline Road, and its accompanying bridge, material, labor and equipment.

In addition, Victoria County has committed $1.5 million for the extension.

"The money's coming out of the 2011, 2012, and 2013 budgets," Armstrong said. "We can do this without a tax increase. It will be available from city and county by 2014."

Despite all the obstacles left to see UHV expand on the Buhler's property, the commission remains optimistic.

The commission will continue to meet weekly and discuss different aspects of making the UHV expansion a reality.

"We know there are naysayers, that's pretty much true," said Judge Don Pozzi. "We need to continue to focus on the education of our children. This is our vision, this is our dream."

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