ASU seeks aid for expansion in downtown Phoenix

Law Library, ASU, Tempe, AZ
ASU Ross-Blakley Law Library, Tempe

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Three years after voters paid to build Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus, the university says it plans to ask taxpayers for more money for an expansion that may relocate the law school from Tempe.  ASU officials would not say how much money they plan to seek, but Richard Stanley, a university vice president who oversees planning, said they want the proposal to be part of a package of city projects to go before voters in 2011 or 2012.  The university expects the enrollment at its downtown campus to nearly double to 15,000. And moving the law school — an idea that Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon publicly pitched in 2007 — would give the school room to grow and put it at the heart of the city’s legal community.  “We will continue to expand downtown, and we will be bringing new programs down there,” Stanley said.

ASU has not talked to the Phoenix leadership about using bond money yet.  But city leaders and experts suggest Phoenix voters may be wary of taking on more debt, especially if tough times linger.  In 2006, city voters approved a bond package that included $220 million to build several buildings on ASU’s new downtown campus.  That debt is paid for with money the city collects from residents’ property taxes.  “It would be wonderful to have the law school downtown,” said Councilwoman Peggy Neely.  But “there are lots and lots of street projects that we didn’t do because… we put such a huge amount of money from the bond program to ASU.”

Even though a bond vote may be a few years away, planning for the election — and jockeying for the funding — starts as much as a year and a half before voters head to the polls.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.  To read Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman’s response, click here.  In a nutshell, he thinks it’s a bad idea.]

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