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Land lease lends major hand to Master Plan

Last Thursday, Sept.18, Missouri Western alumnae Republican Rep. Kenneth Wilson brought a treasured document to the Missouri Western campus.

He presented a copy of House Bill 1206 that just passed through the House that now eliminates a sunset clause allowing Western to utilize their excess land and lease it to businesses.

The original sunset clause only allowed the leasing of land through 2017, which meant the state could take back the acres leased to businesses.

About three sessions ago, the university started pushing for the removal of the sunset clause. Thanks to Wilson making the final push last year, it was removed.

Ann Pearce,  special assistant to the president, explained that the original process of leasing the land that campus had was a long and tedious process.

“It used to be that anytime we wanted to do anything with any of the land that the institutions owned, we had to go through the general assembly and pass legislation for that to happen,” Pearce said. “The governor would have to sign the legislation for it to become law. That was so tedious, and sometimes you can legislation passed and sometimes you can’t.”

Democrat Rep. Pat Conway of District 10 in St. Joseph was one of the people to speak at the presentation.

“In the legislature, there’s a lot of things we don’t always all agree on,” Conway said. “But, the one thing I’m convinced that we can agree on…is that this is a time when we can come together, we can cooperate, and we can do things for Missouri Western, for the city and for the county.”

Western President Robert Vartabedian has been overjoyed with the removal of the clause, and is already kicking off the master plan for making Missouri Western better than ever.

“It just opens up all kinds of opportunities for us as far as land long-term leasing opportunities,” Vartabedian said. “[It can] add to the regional vibrancy, give opportunities for students to be within walking distance of some interesting things to do, obviously a revenue stream for our university if we enter into long-term leasing opportunities. So, it’s a very exciting time for our university to finally have control over that 723 acres.”

Some possible ideas that have been thrown around were using the acres by the incubator for a research park, an additional residential hall or a restaurant within walking distance of campus to give students for variety.

For any students who would like their input included, the next campus forum for the master plan is Wednesday, November 5 at 3:15 p.m. in Enright.

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