Mooney: Benefits of Blinn campus outweigh concerns
However, I’m confident my family, property values, safety and comfort won’t be compromised.
I live in Emerald Forest and once resided in the Raintree subdivision. My west property line runs along Appomattox and from my home, I can see the Lynntech building. As director of academic advising at Texas A&M, I also work with students and staff from A&M and Blinn who participate in Blinn TEAM, the co-enrollment program.
Would a Blinn campus bring changes to the area?
Absolutely. But the changes wouldn’t necessarily be as disruptive as some residents seem to believe.
What about traffic?
While I expect traffic near my home to increase if Blinn moves in, I don’t expect it to be as severe as others have claimed.
Blinn will likely hire a consultant for a traffic impact analysis, which will be useful in identifying ways to mitigate the impact. In addition, the Texas Department of Transportation has assured us it will configure the ramps so that access to and from the property can be achieved without traveling through the neighborhoods.
The Southwest Parkway bridge over Highway 6 would have to be expanded or modified, along with ramps, turn lanes, signals and other infrastructure changes that would benefit neighborhoods and travelers east of the bypass. These changes would be similar to infrastructure alterations needed at the site that has been considered in Bryan.
City traffic specialists also will need to address concerns about the volume and speed of traffic on Appomattox, access to the property from Appomattox, and travel on North Forest and through Raintree, Carter’s Crossing, Emerald Forest and to a much lesser extent, Foxfire and Woodcreek. However, Appomattox was designed as a major collector road and can easily handle additional traffic.
What are the other possibilities?
Opponents of Blinn’s proposal haven’t considered the alternative businesses and buildings that could otherwise come to the property, which is zoned as light industrial with suburban commercial properties on either side. This zoning allows such uses as warehousing, distribution, outdoor storage, scientific testing, research and manufacturing.
Of all the possibilities, an educational institution is of the least concern and is the most enduring since we wouldn’t have to worry about another developer purchasing the property and converting it to another purpose.
What about other nuisances?
- Noise: Some opponents of Blinn’s proposal have claimed that noise from a Blinn campus would prevent them and their children from sleeping at night. But Blinn’s classes begin at 7:45 a.m. and most end just before 5 p.m. Even the latest classes end before 9 p.m.
- Fast Food Restaurants: Opponents have also claimed that the college plans to sell property along the service road to fast food restaurants, which is news to me. It’s my understanding that Blinn wants to develop a food court within the existing facilities.
- Bright Lights: At night when I walk my dog on North Forest and approach the Carter’s Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the lights of the Central Park ball fields across Highway 6 often light my way. Directional LED lighting on the proposed Blinn campus will result in less lighting infiltrating the neighborhoods than what already emanates from the ballparks.
- Rental Housing: Nearby neighborhoods already include significant numbers of students, and the City of College Station is working on changing rental ordinances to mitigate rental housing concerns. The majority of Blinn students live throughout College Station, and a new campus won’t dramatically increase student rentals in nearby neighborhoods unless homeowners sell their homes to rental investors or choose to rent to students themselves. Blinn estimates that about 60 percent of its students transfer to A&M and continue to be renters until they graduate.
What about the benefits?
Having a Blinn campus in College Station would certainly benefit our residents, families and student population. The money Blinn students spend on school supplies, food and other expenses will benefit College Station’s general fund and help keep property taxes at their historically low levels. In addition, Blinn would expand its police force to work with the CSPD, just as the A&M police force does.
Blinn is also nationally recognized for its student’s academic success and community support, and the availability of traditional and dual credit courses would be more easily accessed.
While I support a Blinn campus in College Station, I also recognize that many additional aspects should be considered and appropriate steps taken to protect the well-being of our residents and their properties.