- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
St. Mary’s College of Maryland is taking a long-term look at what new facilities it needs. So far that includes a new auditorium, new science and arts classroom space and possibly a new stadium.
On Wednesday college staff gave updates on those and other building projects already in the works during a Capital Design Advisory committee open house and meeting.
Among the projects moving forward are safety improvements along the Route 5 section through campus and the replacement of Anne Arundel Hall.
The highway project, which is several years in the works, has been scaled back considerably due to funding and requests by State Highway Administration, but will still involve narrowing the car lanes, adding bicycle and pedestrian pathways, increasing lighting and other improvements. It is funded by $1 million in federal money. Medians separating north and south travel lanes were originally planned on Route 5 through campus but will not be constructed.
The improvements are meant to help bring drivers down to the actual speed limits through campus, which is 30 mph at the location where the work will be done. The intersection of Trinity Church Road and Route 5 will also be realigned to provide more of a 90-degree turn.
Chip Jackson, associate vice president for planning and facilities, said the college is going ahead with plans to build a walking path and boardwalk along Route 5 to the north recreation fields. That work could be done in 2014 if the college can secure a grant from the state.
Jackson said demolition should begin next summer of the Anne Arundel Hall academic building, which sits between Route 5 and the State House, and construction of its replacement could begin the following year. The new classroom buildings, which include archaeology lab and storage space, will hopefully be open by the 2016 fall semester, he said.
Luke Mowbray, facilities planner and sustainability coordinator, said that the college is not projecting any growth in enrollment, which stands at about 2,000, through at least 2026, but that there are still some additional needs for residential space on campus as needs and wants shift.
Each year there is a high demand from students for rooms in the college’s townhomes, and less demand for space at the four aging dormitory buildings on campus.
St. Mary’s College’s largest auditorium space is the 200-seat St. Mary’s Hall. The plan includes building a new 700-seat auditorium.
Art classes are currently being held in hallways and other non-classroom spaces in the college’s Montgomery Hall. That needs to change, college officials said, as the interest in arts continues to grow.
Mowbray said that he hopes people will continue to offer feedback as the master plan is finalized over this winter and next spring. The plan will outline facility needs through 2026.
A new stadium could be constructed across Mattapany Road from the main campus where some practice fields currently exist. Jackson said preliminary plans involve a center seating area that faces two fields, one regular grass and the other synthetic turf.
The synthetic turf field would primarily be used for the women’s field hockey team, and perhaps by the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. The natural grass field would be used by the men’s and women’s soccer teams, Jackson said.
Several projects at neighboring Historic St. Mary’s City are also moving forward, while the planned visitor’s center that is to be located next to Anne Arundel Hall still remains in limbo after it was pushed out of the state’s capital improvements plan for the next several years.
A new storage barn that might also be used as a woodshop for museum repairs is set to go up next spring to replace a barn that burned down Jan. 2, 2009. That barn could eventually be used for workshops and other public projects, Regina Faden, executive director of the museum, said.
The college and museum have been steadily renovating the Chancellor’s Point nature center, which was heavily damaged after a truck ran into the building years ago, Jackson said.
The building is now being used for college programs and classes and could eventually be used for workshops and other events. Road improvements to the building are planned for this spring as well as a path and ramp that will allow visitors easy access to the beach, thanks to an Americans with Disabilities Act grant.