City-University Project Fund provides revenue for campus, city improvements

North Manhattan Ave: Closed from Baker's Way to Research Drive as part of the North Campus Corridor Project. The slope of the hill will be reduced, the roadway widened, utilities relocated, a 10' sidewalk will be installed, and streetscaping will be added to the area. A detour route is in place until the roadway reopens. photo taken on 11/17/19 (Collegian Media Group | Jordan Koster)

The City-University Projects Fund provides resources that mutually benefit K-State students and staff as well as citizens of Manhattan by placing emphasis on economic development and safety issues. The fund was created in 1994 upon the annexation of Kansas State University by the City of Manhattan.

“The idea behind it is to come up with projects around campus or the perimeter of campus,” Laurel Littrell, co-chair of the faculty senate committee on university planning and director of library planning for Hale Library, said.

The fund is supported by sales tax and other revenue generated on campus. The faculty senate, student senate and university support staff senate plan the projects and decide what to submit for approval.

“It has been a really great way for the three senates to get together and work on something and see things happen,” Littrell said.

Since campus is currently closed and revenue isn’t being generated, Littrell estimates there will be a lag in available funding that may hinder the three senates from proposing projects in the next fiscal year.

Previous projects have included improvements to Memorial Stadium, sidewalks, pedestrian safety and lighting improvements around campus and parking lot improvements in Aggieville.

Lily Colburn, sophomore in political science, was born and raised in Manhattan and has seen city university fund dollars at work.

“I drove up and down Manhattan Avenue every single day on my way to school,” Colburn said. “I really saw the benefit of it as someone who has lived in Manhattan and I also see the benefit as a student. It just makes getting around campus and the campus environment better which, in turn, definitely benefits the Manhattan community as well.”

Colburn’s interest in the fund lies in the fact that there are a lot of crosswalks going from off-campus living areas to on-campus buildings that she feels aren’t the safest for students.

“That is exactly the kind of thing that the city university fund can be used for,” Colburn said.

Jacob Land, junior in industrial engineering and local relations director for SGA, said the majority of the money is currently going towards making crosswalks safer in the North Campus Corridor area near the Business Building. Stop lights similar to ones on Denison Avenue between the Kramer Complex and the Engineering Complex will be installed.

In the future, Land would like to see the fund serve students who live off-campus.

“I would like to see our off-campus support office expanded,” Land said. “With a campus of 20,000 plus students, a majority of which do not live on campus, I think there does need to be more resources available to students to be able to ask questions or whatever it may be when it comes to off-campus housing.”

Currently, there is only one undergraduate student who works 10 hours per week helping students who live off-campus. Several universities across the country have entire off-campus housing departments with several full-time employees.

“I’m sure that person does absolutely great work, I don’t want to digress the work that he does in his role,” Land said. “But I do think that there can be an expansion with that to be able to better serve K-State students.”

Grace Palcic, senior in philosophy and political science and member of the Governmental Relations Committee, works with the City/University Special Project Fund Committee to create different project ideas from an SGA perspective.

Palcic also believes off-campus living situations for students could be something that the fund supports in the future.

“SGA did a lot of work this year with bridging the gap between city resources and students when it comes to housing,” Palcic said. “The governmental relations committee actually put on a housing information meeting for students so that they can learn about the inspections that are offered to renters and the different policies that go on with that so that way, students know how to get a safe rental.”

Palcic believes the city and university can work to ensure proper policies are in place to support students living off campus.