Baker University Board of Trustees votes to retain ownership of land near wetlands after developer had sought to purchase

photo by: Baker University

The highlighted area in this map shows a 16-acre parcel adjacent to the Baker Wetlands that Baker University is considering selling to a developer for an affordable housing project.

The Baker University Board of Trustees has voted to retain ownership of a parcel of land near the Baker Wetlands that until recently was under consideration for a potential land sale to accommodate a housing development.

The university confirmed the vote in a brief statement on Tuesday. As the Journal-World has reported, Baker University had been considering selling a 16-acre parcel near the Baker University Wetlands Discovery Center at 1365 North 1250 Road to a private investment company for the development of affordable housing.

The statement from Baker University says that the decision to retain ownership of the parcel came after “extensive data gathering and deliberation.”

The potential sale drew a student protest on the Baker University campus in late April. Earlier this month, the Haskell Indian Nations University Board of Regents also publicly opposed the sale, calling development in the Wakarusa River floodplain a “continued assault on Haskell’s historic Wakarusa Wetlands.”

Haskell’s board of regents also voiced opposition to another project with the potential to affect the wetlands, the sprawling New Boston Crossing project, which is further along in the process toward development.

That project has drawn further opposition from a group called “Save the Wakarusa River Valley.” Developers are currently awaiting a decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permission to develop within the floodplain. A little less than half of the proposed 177-acre project site overlaps with the floodplain, meaning the developers would need to grade and fill the project site to lift a portion of the area out of the existing floodplain.


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