HIGH POINT — High Point University President Nido Qubein strongly criticized the city for delaying an infrastructure project near campus and said action is being taken in response.
He said HPU will seek to steer campus visitors away from the western segment of Montlieu Avenue because of much-needed improvements to the corridor.
“Sadly, effective in 30 days, we will close entry to the university from Montlieu, hence cutting a link between HPU and downtown,” Qubein said in an email. “Regretful, but necessary. Visitors to the university are shocked that the city doesn’t care about the university’s main road to Main Street.”
Qubein was reacting to the city putting a proposed series of upgrades to Montlieu between North Main and North Centennial streets on hold after construction bids came in at nearly twice the estimated cost of $5 million.
HPU offered to split the cost with the city for improvements such as burial of overhead utility lines, replacement of aging underground water and sewer infrastructure and sidewalk enhancements along the corridor.
According to Qubein, HPU supports the project because it would better connect the campus with the downtown area by making Montlieu more walkable with better lighting. It would also connect with the Nido and Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum, which is under construction on the western end of Montlieu as well as other redevelopment projects in the downtown area.
“Our efforts and $2.5 million contribution are no longer effective, even after the mayor and City Council promised to do Montlieu when we pushed for a yes before we built the museum,” Qubein said. “Now, the museum’s opening for October is canceled as well until we see a solution for Montlieu. Not what we wanted, but we will move now in a different direction.”
City Manager Tasha Logan Ford said the council remains “committed to finding a workable solution” to the Montlieu project.
After the project was opened to bids this spring, she said only two contractors responded. The lowest bid would have come with a cost of more than $8.9 million, nearly doubling original projections.
“The city has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with High Point University under the leadership of Dr. Qubein to deliver infrastructure projects that benefit the entire city,” Logan Ford said. “The city remains committed to those goals.”