By Mark Strom
Maynard commuter lot will be the site of a new residence hall, which will accommodate students who will be displaced once O’Connor Hall is converted to academic offices and facilities.
According to Executive Vice President Dale Hamel, “Students will start to see activity on the Maynard Road site as early as fall 2014,” and construction is planned to be completed in 2016. The current cost estimate is $37 million.
Hamel said the current plan is for a four-floor residence hall, with a size of 82,000 gross square feet. In terms of capacity, Hamel said that the new residence hall is anticipated to house 286 beds, compared to O’Connor Hall’s 241.
He said Maynard lot was chosen as the site for the residence hall because it was “most appropriate” for the size and cost of the building.
Warren Fairbanks, associate vice president of facilities and capital planning, said the location also makes sense from an aesthetic perspective. Most of the academic facilities are in the center of campus, while the residence halls are on the border.
“We want to move the residence [halls] to the periphery of the campus,” said Fairbanks. “That’s what we did with North Hall, and that’s what we’re doing with Maynard.”
According to Hamel, the original plan was to have North Hall’s opening coincide with the repositioning of O’Connor Hall, but “the demand for enrollment and residence halls” made doing so impractical.
He said in recent years, enrollment has exceeded the projected growth. “One of the things that we’ve done is adjusted the anticipated rate of growth that we are targeting each year,” said Hamel. “We’re going to aim for 1 percent [for] the next two years ... and then go back to the 2 percent rate” in 2016.
According to Hamel, the reason O’Connor Hall is being repurposed is due to a lack of academic space. “We have a lot of faculty sharing offices,” said Hamel. “We don’t have space for new faculty whom we plan to bring on over the next `ve years.”
According to Fairbanks, steps have already been taken to repurpose O’Connor Hall. “Just last summer, we completely replaced the heating system and added air conditioning to the whole building.”
Fairbanks said future renovations will include the addition of an elevator and removing showers from the bathrooms since they will no longer be necessary.
Hamel said the original plan was to build a parking structure on Maynard lot. However, it was
determined there would be a “number of issues” involved with such a project.
“For the two years of construction, we’d be out all of the spaces that are associated with our largest lot on campus,” said Hamel. He added, “When we were talking with students, a number of the students commented back that they don’t feel real comfortable in parking structures.”
According to Hamel, the new residence hall will take up 130 of Maynard Lot’s current 430 spaces. “The good news is that we’ll have Salem End lot online prior to the construction of the new residence hall,” said Hamel. He said the new parking lot will have 262 spaces.
He added that “a portion of the Maynard lot” will be available for commuter parking while construction is occurring.
Maddison Folse, a senior communication arts major, said “Oh my gosh, I don’t like that at all. No! I mean, I’m a commuter right now and I have to get there a half hour early for an 8:30 class to even get to a spot.” About the design plans, she added, “I don’t like how close it is to a parking lot. ... You can barely park in the middle [spaces] without getting your car wedged in anyways.”
Billy Levitsky, a senior sociology major, said, concerning the design plans, “I think it looks nice, just based on that. Nicer dorms make living on campus more appealing. ... I think it’s going to bring more people on campus, which is going to be better.” However, Levitsky also expressed concern about the capacity of the dining commons, saying “the dining commons are crowded enough as it is.”
Cole Grassey, an undeclared freshman, said, “I’ve heard that there’s a growing number of commuters [compared] to residents. I’m not quite sure if it’s worth it to build more residence halls.”
Jordan Bain, a junior communication arts major, said, “It’s probably not going to be great [to build on Maynard lot]. I feel like it’s already wicked full as it is, and where they’re building a new parking lot is not that big of a space to begin with.”
Jake Teehan, a sophomore business management major, said, “I have to fight for a spot every morning unless I want to drive down to the Maple lot. ... It’s a race to get a spot anyways with the little amount of spots we have.”
Fairbanks stressed that the design plans are tentative, and by no means final.
According to Fairbanks, the current design calls for the demolition of the maintenance and facilities building. He is unsure where his department will relocate. “I was thinking about putting the entire facilities department into the cloud and going virtual,” said Fairbanks. “But I don’t know how practical that would be.”
Fairbanks said facilities is responsible for maintenance, groundskeeping, locks and keys, the university’s fleet of vehicles, managing construction projects, shipping and receiving, mail services, campus events, the power plant and custodial services.
“Our mission is to provide a safe, dependable and attractive teaching and learning environment for the students, faculty and the support staff on campus,” said Fairbanks. He added that other goals include sustainability, energy efficiency and reliability “so that we don’t have unplanned foreclosures of buildings or rooms or programs.”