An update to Central Washington University’s 10-year facilities master plan now under review will address a vast array of campus issues including connections between downtown and the university, the John Wayne Trail and parking.

“I think all in all, people have been really interested in what’s going on,” said CWU Director of Facilities Bill Yarwood. He’s been presenting the plan to interested community groups on and off campus since January. “And people will say, ‘Thanks for coming, this is the first time anybody’s really come forward and showed us what your plans are.’”

The science neighborhood

Most construction projects in the nearly 500-page plan are concentrated in the southwest portion of campus. Proposed projects in this part of the university, known as the science neighborhood, include new science facilities (see accompanying story for more details), a renovation of Samuelson Hall, construction of a new health sciences building and removal of Hertz Hall. State funding requests have been submitted for the new science facilities, the renovation of Samuelson Communication and Technology Center and design of the new Health Sciences building. The Legislature still needs to approve those requests before they can appear in the state’s 2013-15 capital budget. 

The science neighborhood is an ongoing effort included in the master plan that would consolidate CWU College of the Sciences in a single part of the university’s campus.

“That’s kind of the whole goal is to just get (science buildings) in closer proximity to each other,” Yarwood said. “A lot of them, they’ll have lecture halls that will be shared. There’s all kinds of synergy.”

Facilities have been grouped by subject in other areas of the campus, Yarwood said, and other projects proposed in the updated master plan will continue that trend. As an example, Yarwood said, a new performing arts building proposed in the plan would sit near to CWU’s music building.

“It’s all part of a bigger picture,” Yarwood said.


New science facilities, as proposed in the plan, would be built on the site of an existing parking lot south of the Japanese Garden. Yarwood said that parking lot is a remnant of an older parking lot that was not placed in its current location on purpose. Past plans sought to remove parking lots from the center of campus. 

The updated plan looks at several options to compensate for the approximately 100 lost parking spaces, including creation of additional parking off D Street and widening an existing parking lot.

“Some of that’s going to depend on the funding that we get,” Yarwood said. “We’ve got some options that we’re pushing up to the administration to review. When you go through (a review) like this, what you want to do, is you want to leave some alternatives and options. In order to mitigate a problem, we want to look at a couple of different options.”

Downtown connection

Yarwood hopes to work with downtown businesses and groups to create better connections between the campus and downtown Ellensburg.

“There isn’t really a clear path to downtown for students from campus,” Yarwood said.

The city plans to create a bike corridor along Seventh Avenue, Yarwood said, and he hopes to tie CWU’s pedestrian routes into that corridor. New paths into downtown would have benches and signs directing travelers to points of interest in the area. 

The plan also calls for new signs to be added at common points of entry to the campus and a new pedestrian crossing on University Way. 

Wilson Creek 

Another collaborative planning effort with the city of Ellensburg would move Wilson Creek. The creek runs underground in places near University Way. The plans would uncover the creek  and move it in some areas to run alongside a proposed cross-campus extension of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. 

John Wayne Trail

The John Wayne Trail runs through Kittitas County along a former railroad right of way that intersects CWU’s campus. The trail is currently disconnected at both ends of campus, but the updated master plan would build a new bike and pedestrian friendly route for the trail through campus.

State law prohibits horses on campus, Yarwood said, and a separate equestrian-friendly route has been proposed to bypasss the university.

Proposals for the John Wayne trail tie in with other circulation plans laid out in the facilities plan.

Other issues

The plan assumes up to 10,000 students on the Ellensburg campus, with approximately 37 percent of full-time students continuing to live on campus. The plan uses a “10-minute rule” based on the time necessary to walk from one academic building to another.

 The review

A draft of the master plan update was released in January. CWU last updated its facilities master plan in 2005. Yarwood said transitions have occurred at the university since the last update, and the university’s overall strategic plan has been revised.

“It’s just time now to address all that,” Yarwood said.

The state Environmental Policy Act review process (SEPA) being used to evaluate the master plan only assesses environmental impacts of a project, but Yarwood said he’s interested in feedback on any topic pertaining to the plan (see the accompanying timeline for more information on the SEPA process). The state Department of Ecology administers the review and determined that the plan would not have a significant environmental impact.


Facilities master plan timeline

Jan. 9

Central Washington University posts a draft of its facilities master plan to the university website at

January, February and March 2013

CWU representatives meet with university, city, county and other community groups.

Feb. 4

An overview of the plan was given to the Ellensburg City Council.

March 4

The state Department of Ecology issued an environmental checklist and a SEPA determination for a 30-day public review period.

March 2013

Updated plan posted on CWU’s website.

March 25

CWU will host a day-long series of planning meetings at CWU’s Mary Grupe Conference Center. The meetings will include a 10 a.m. campus planning workshop, a 2 p.m. CWU and community planning forum and a 7 p.m. SEPA public hearing.

April 4

SEPA public comments on the plan are due.

April 16

The SEPA appeal process ends.

April and May 2013

CWU will address any issues and update the plan.

May 2013

A final draft will be provided to the Ellensburg City Council.

July 2013

The final plan will be forwarded to the CWU Board of Trustees and posted on the university website.


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