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Board Reviews Five-Year Facilities and Site Master Plan


Construction of a College Services Center near the Maynard Street entrance of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Main Campus in Williamsport is expected to take place within the next five years, according to the Facilities and Site Master Plan 2000-05 presented to the College’s Board of Directors.

The plan is the latest in a series drafted since 1967 to represent the College’s systematic look toward the future, according to its author, Senior Vice President Dr. William J. Martin.

“This planning document represents our best current assessment of the College’s future direction in terms of its property holdings and physical plant development,” Dr. Martin explained. “Adoption of the plan does not indicate an approval of any construction or renovation project. Each project must come back before the Board for specific approvals, including architectural designs and financing plans.”

One project outlined in the plan, renovation of recently purchased College West Apartments, already is under development. Work at the Rose Street site on the western perimeter of campus − cabling for communications, fencing, landscaping, interior repair, parking lot and site development, and the addition of a police facility on site − is expected to cost approximately $1.5 million.

The Penn College Board previously identified student housing as a primary concern and set a goal of providing on-campus housing for at least 1,000 students. The purchase of College West earlier this year brought the total number of on-campus beds to that desired level − but did not make any additional beds available to students overall, as the previous owner of College West also served Penn College students.

“Buying College West expanded on-campus residence opportunities, but it did not create any new beds,” Dr. Martin explained. “Since we opened our first on-campus residence in 1996, enrollment has increased by more than 600 students − many of whom require local housing. But we have expanded on-campus housing since then only by purchasing existing properties that already were serving our students. This plan does suggest that, if it becomes apparent that student needs are not being met, the Board may want to revisit the need for student housing during the next five years.”

If the Board does decide to construct more student housing, it is not likely that the residences will be built in the area of the new campus entrance, according to the plan. Dr. Martin indicated that the outlook for site development for student housing has shifted to the west.

“Since acquiring College West, we reconsidered campus development plans and proposed the creation of two distinct zones − one for instructional and student-service needs and the other as a student residential zone,” he explained.

This plan calls for adding facilities used for classrooms and offices in the vicinity of Maynard Street corridor, where they are highly visible and easily accessible. Student housing expansion would be directed to the area west of campus, where College West is located. The western site provides better noise and traffic conditions for student housing, Dr. Martin said.

Another previously discussed project for the Main Campus entrance area, a new College Library, is expected to remain only a vision in the immediate future, according to the plan, which anticipates a need for more than five years to acquire funding for the project. Dr. Martin said the Library could represent the first campus project to receive some level of funding support from The Pennsylvania State University. (As part of the 1989 affiliation, Penn State committed to assist Penn College in securing state funding for a major new facility.) It also is possible that the College will seek a major donor or initiate a major capital campaign to underwrite the building project.

While fund-raising and preliminary architectural designs for the Library could be done over the next five years, it is unlikely that the project would go further before 2005. As such, the only construction suggested for completion within the life of the plan is the College Services Center.

A major renovation of the Klump Academic Center (circa 1913) could be undertaken if a new College Services Center is built within the five years. Many services that would be relocated to the new center are in the College’s oldest structure, which formerly served as the Williamsport High School. Renovation work would be required in approximately 11 classrooms and 40 offices. Among the services that would be relocated to the new center would be admissions, financial aid, student accounts, registrar (student records) and residence life operations.

This summer, renovation work is being completed in the Susquehanna Room, a food-service area that had not been extensively updated since 1985. Other classroom renovations are planned in the Breuder Advanced Technology and Health Sciences Center and the Hager Lifelong Education Center, including the addition of a new hospitality laboratory. Anticipated renovation of Lions Court, which is along West Third Street west of the Academic Center, will create space for campus police and special housing needs. Also, a number of campus rest rooms will be renovated for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Calling the plan a “blueprint for the future,” the senior vice president said planning is predicated on an analysis of enrollment projections, existing facility conditions and renovation requirements, safety and security, zoning and related restrictions and land availability.

“The Main Campus site, with the newly acquired acreage at the College West Apartments site, now appears to have nearly sufficient space for expansion in the foreseeable future of 10 to 15 years. Now, site planning must focus on the judicious use of this space,” Dr. Martin stressed.

However, Dr. Martin added that the blueprint would remain flexible enough to accommodate any unexpected opportunities that may arise during the life of the plan. He cited as an example, the recent opportunity to acquire College West, which had not been anticipated under the previous plan.

“While both the probability of such opportunities arising and our need for continued land acquisition is diminishing, we always must keep ourselves open to future considerations,” Dr. Martin said.

President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour agreed: “The task of keeping instructional facilities up-to-date has greater importance for us than it may in more traditional liberal arts settings. Changes in technology demand that we be prepared to respond quickly with necessary adjustments to our physical plant. Often, program and facility development occur simultaneously − as was the case in the past at our Advanced Automotive Technology Center and our Physician Assistant Center. We must be prepared to adjust our priorities. So, each year, we will continue to review our facility needs as part of our budgeting process and we will bring forth recommendations to our Board to reflect immediate needs.”

The anticipated building and renovation program outlined in the plan − launched by the purchase of College West Apartments − represents the eighth stage of construction instituted by the College in the past two decades. The most recent stage, completed in 1999, included the development of the Main Entrance site − access road, sidewalks and fence as well as lines and connections to provide water, sewer, electrical, gas and communications support to buildings that will be constructed on the site. Also completed last year: construction of the Field House, renovation and expansion of the Schneebeli Earth Science Center and expansion of the parking lot serving the Thompson Professional Development Center, Le Jeune Chef Restaurant and the Victorian House. (See below for major construction completed under prior stages.)

College land holdings total nearly 940 acres, with more than 90 acres at the Main Campus, which lies within the institutional zone created by the City of Williamsport in 1998. The zone extends east to Maynard Street, west to Rose Street, north to Vine Avenue (west of Park Street) and (east of Park Street) all current College holdings south of West Third Street (between Second and Third Streets), and south to the campus border. Other sites include Lumley Aviation Center (5.8 acres); Earth Science Center (358.34 acres); General Services Center (5.39 acres); Advanced Automotive Center (2.0 acres); North Campus (35.39 acres) and Morgan Valley Retreat Center (439.7 acres). Estimated replacement cost for College facilities is estimated at $129,520,703.

Enrollment at Penn College has increased by 1,000 students over the past decade. Last fall − with the student population at 5,389 − marked the third year of record-high enrollments. Over the next five years, more growth is anticipated at annual rates ranging from less than 1 percent to slightly over 2 percent.

Major Campus Construction/Renovation Since 1980

Stage I (1980) Funded by State Public School Building Authority Bond Issue and local match through the College’s fund balance.

Avco-Lycoming Metal Trades Center Carl Building Technologies Center Learning Resources Center

Stage II (1984) Funded by State Public School Building Authority Bond Issue and local match through the College’s fund balance.

Hager Lifelong Education Center Technical Trades Center (renovation) Bardo Gymnasium (renovation) Klump Academic Center (renovation) Land acquisition (now southern border of campus)

Stage III (1987) Funded by State Public School Building Authority Bond Issue and local match through $5 million grant from Lycoming County.Breuder Advanced Technology & Health Sciences Center Thompson Professional Development Center

Stage IV (1993) Funded by the College’s first issuance of its own bonds, following its Penn State affiliation.

Bush Campus Center Lumley Aviation Center Community Arts Center

Stage V (1996) Funded by remaining bond proceeds and revenue from bond issue refinancing.

Victorian House Le Jeune Chef (renovation) Diesel Center (relocation)

Stage VI (1997) Funded by new bond issue.

Village at Penn College (student housing)

Stage VII (1999)Funded with proceeds of new bond issue and College fund balance.

Site acquisition (now Maynard Street entrance) Campus View Apartments Main Entrance Field House Schneebeli Earth Science Center (renovations)

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