By Doug McMurdo
Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus noted the symbolism on display Thursday, Sept. 19 when city and county officials and Utah State University administrators gathered to celebrate the completion of the Mill Creek Drive extension on the west side of Highway 191 – now to be known as Aggie Boulevard – at the end of which will stand the new USU Moab campus.
“We’re building a road together,” she said to an audience of dozens, as well as USU Interim Vice President Larry Smith, Lianna Etchberger, vice president, USU Moab, and former Mayor Dave Sakrison.
Niehaus pointed out the dark sky-compliant, energy efficient LED street lights, the multimodal construction of the road that includes walking and biking paths, and native plant landscaping.
Dr. Larry Smith, USU’s interim vice president, thanked the community for its support of the Moab campus. “We knew it was appropriate” to build a new facility. “We’re thrilled to work with the Moab community,” he said.
The new $8.5 million, 20,000-square-foot campus will house academics and Career and Technical Education certificate programs, as well as an Extension office, said Etchberger. She said the campus would be “as green and sustainable as possible,” and could even be carbon neutral.
The university successfully lobbied State lawmakers for $1 million and seeks another $500,000 from Grand County in order to build space to house Extension. The Grand County Council is researching the feasibility of purchasing the current USU campus on 200 South. If that sell happens, the proceeds will go to help with campus construction costs.
She noted that there are roads called Aggie Boulevards all over the country. President Abraham Lincoln established land grants for the construction of agricultural colleges, and in 1888 Utah’s agriculture college began.
Niehaus offered profuse praise to her predecessor, saying Sakrison’s work made her job much easier, something for which she has been grateful. For his part, Sakrison thanked prior Moab city councils for their foresight in seeing the need to bring meaningful higher education opportunities to Grand County.
Groundbreaking on the new campus is set for next spring.