The Ridges Master Plan Nearing Completion

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The Ridges Master Plan Committee is expected to wrap up its recommendations for what Ohio University should do with the former Athens Lunatic Asylum in the coming months. In the meantime, a $300,000 stabilization project to help preserve some of the buildings will be undertaken.

Last week, The Ridges Advisory Committee — made up of OU, city, county and citizen representatives — met with Robert Loversidge, president and CEO of Schooley Caldwell Associates, and Sarah Richardson, senior associate with MKSK, to talk about some of the opportunities for the former mental health complex.

As The Messenger previously reported, OU has decided to fold The Ridges Master Plan into the university’s broader campus master plan to allow the university to look at the whole picture when making decisions about the campus’ future.

Schooley Caldwell and MKSK are the consulting firms hired by Ohio University to help with The Ridges Master Plan.

According to Richardson, there is a lot of alignment in what OU and the general community want to see happen at The Ridges. The consultants held several public meetings to gain public feedback.

“We’re not giving specific recommendations. We’re just showing what the opportunities are,” Richardson said, noting that it will be up to OU to ultimately decide what is done with the buildings and land.

Some of the opportunities the consultants see for The Ridges include recreational activities such as more trails and bike loops; a parking deck near where the mini golf course is; dividing the main Kirkbridge building vertically for various uses; utilizing land for a solar farm or to demonstrate other sustainable practices; an eco-village; and private development.

The consultants reiterated that many of the buildings at The Ridges are in better shape than people feared. They noted that topography is a challenge, but the buildings are highly adaptable for various uses. It was also stated that the property can “support and enhance the physical, social, emotional and environmental health of the campus and the community.”

Loversidge said that approximately $300,000 in stabilization work will begin in the next few months. That work will include roof and gutter repairs and masonry work. He said the repairs are only temporary fixes, but will help slow down deterioration of the buildings — mainly the Kirkbridge portion.

The final draft of The Ridges Master Plan is expected in the next few months. It will also be presented to the OU Board of Trustees at its June meeting.