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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Master Plan takes a step in a growing direction

By Wayne Boykin II

In 10 years, Columbia College will not look the same.  The college’s Master Plan shows the campus with new buildings and grounds layouts. According to the college administration, the Master Plan was created to make the campus more advanced, livable, safe, aesthetic and environmentally friendly.
             The most-talked-about part of the Master Plan is the new state-of-the-art science building. Dr. Terry Smith, executive vice president and dean for Academic Affairs said the science building will be “the most prominent building on campus.” Students currently attending the college likely will not see the finished product, so it is something they will have to come back to see.
According to Bob Hutton, executive director of Administrative Services, the cost of the science building is estimated at $14 million. Though the college has raised more than $2.5 million, construction is not planned to start until half the funds have been raised.  Smith said the largest donations have come from the McQuinn family, who contributed $500,000, and Web Bixby, who donated $250,000. According to Hutton, the college will began construction on the science building within the next three years.  
The 10-year plan has many more projects than just the science building to implement. The Master Plan includes a new apartment-style residence hall and the destruction and rebuilding of Miller Hall, removal of the drive and parking lot behind St. Clair Hall, the addition of a center divider on Rangeline (removing street parking on Rangeline) and a parking garage behind the Southwell Complex.
The Master Plan was created in 2009 before the college purchased three pieces of land south of Rogers street; therefore, some adjustments will be made to the plan. The old Columbia Photo building on 10th Street houses the Online Campus, and the green building across 10th Street from the Online Campus houses Student Support Services (SSS). The last purchase was the building on the corner of Rogers and 10th streets, the Kirkman House, which houses the music and performance arts programs.
With these new purchases, the college administration is considering how to rework the Master Plan. The Online Campus and SSS will remain in their current locations; however, the music and performance arts programs were originally planned to move to the current Nursing Center. Smith said he wants to keep the original plan. “We have bigger plans for music and the performing arts,” Smith said. President Gerald Brouder said he wants to keep the music program in the Kirkman House and might use the Nursing Center for something else, such as office space. Brouder said, “We are totally out of office space.”
A future parking garage also is a topic of debate. Although the plan includes a garage, Smith said, “I hope we don’t do it.” Smith said that with the other changes and the new parking lots, the plan will create plenty of surface parking. Smith said, “Parking is a very dynamic thing.” He also said he understands the parking issue on campus but believes parking garages are costly, unattractive and not cost-effective. Brouder said he understands that someday a garage will be needed; however, he questions the security of a parking garage.

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