PDT Staff Writer
On Thursday the Scioto County Commissioners signed a letter of support calling for the closure of Third Street in the city of Portsmouth for Shawnee State University’s expansion plans.
The letter addressed to Portsmouth Mayor David Malone states, “as friends of Shawnee State University, we are writing to ask you and members of City Council to support the closing of Third Street between Gay and Waller so that the university may grow and expand according to the master facilities plan they developed in concert with the city and community in 2007.”
According to the letter, SSU has experienced a 39 percent growth in student population over the last 10 years and now has 1,000 students living on campus with on-campus housing at capacity.
“We believe that the growth of Shawnee State University is good for the community and translates to jobs-both at the university and in the region,” the letter reads. “The only method for ensuring current jobs and the financial and programmatic support SSU provides for the community is their ability to increase enrollment and that requires expansion.”
Scioto County Interim Economic Development Director Todd Book said the closure of Third Street makes economic sense.
“One of the biggest areas of potential growth in our community, centers around Shawnee State. You look at their master plan and the goal of expanding the student population would in turn expand the number of professors in the area, which in turn would expand the number of business opportunities for the community,” Book said. “It makes makes economic sense to be able to help them (SSU) develop a strong university. For us not to take advantage of Shawnee State and give them the tools they need to expand the university would be counterproductive.”
SSU President Dr. Rita Rice Morris thanked the commissioners for their support in this effort.
“We appreciate the support we have received for our continued growth and are extremely grateful to see members of the community taking the time to study our request,” Morris said in a released statement. “Shawnee State University was created because of the support of the people of this community and because of the vision and passion of our local and state leaders at the time. Our leaders of today, including our county commissioners, share the same passion for education and community development and we appreciate having them as partners as we move forward.”
Portsmouth City Council will give a first reading to legislation that would vacate Third Street for SSU at its next meeting on March 11.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.