Creating new parking areas and building new on campus housing were two topics discussed at the last Coffee at 5:05 session of the fall semester. Douglas Greening, director of the Physical Plant, spoke to a small gathering of faculty and students on the campus master plan that will take construction of SHSU into the next decade and beyond.
The master plan, entitled Y2K+10, was conceived by Ralph D. Spencer, Sr. and plots $204 million in campus developments.
According to Greening, Spencer is not new to SHSU, having designed the plan that took the university from the 1980s to the current time.
“Ralph Spencer is pretty well-known on campus. He did the original 1982 master plan called Master Plan 2000 and followed that in 1985 with a Master Plan Update,” Greening said. “We were able to execute a lot of the previous plan, including the recent renovations of the Estill and Administration Buildings.”
Y2K+10 plans to define campus edges, improve parking and traffic around campus and construct new academic buildings and student housing. The plan is divided into two phases, the first taking place from 2001 to 2005 and the second from 2005 to 2010.
“Spencer talked to students on campus and got their ideas on what they wanted in a campus and what we could do to improve campus,” Greening said.
One common student complaint Spencer addresses in his plan is campus parking. His solution is the construction of parking garages within the next five years.
“One thing scheduled to get off the ground early were a couple of parking garages,” Greening said. “One would be located near the Estill Building and the other east of the Coliseum.”
Greening said while the garages may seem to be a good solution to the parking problems, the university as a whole is not ready to absorb the required expense to have them built.
“There has been a lot of study, mashing teeth and number crunching done, and it just doesn’t seem like we’re comfortable with garages yet,” he said. “As a result we are probably going to hold for a while until we can pay for it and make garages something students can afford. Right now it will cost people a significant amount of money to use them.
According to Greening, “a significant amount of money” would equal somewhere between $50 and $100 a month for students to park in the structured garages.
In spite of this, the master plan calls for at least five parking garages to be built at various locations on campus including behind the library, the University Hotel, the LSC and the Criminal Justice center.
Greening said constructing five garages before 2005 is both unlikely and unnecessary.
“That’s a lot of parking garages to build in five years and I personally don’t think it will happen,” he said. “We may put one somewhere in the near future but I don’t think we’ll be looking at a lot unless they really pan out and are a success.”
For the time being, Greening said the university plans to focus on surface parking by adding new lots and adding spaces to existing ones.
According to Greening, these new lots would account for 700 new spaces. He said students might see new parking lots near the SHSU tennis courts and in part of Colony Park.
“We know that Colony Park is pretty controversial and many students are not really happy about that,” he said. “However, we do intend to just use the open space in the middle, not the area with the trees on both ends. I don’t know if that’s going to stay in the project or not, as far as I know it is still part of the project.”
To relieve traffic problems, the master plan also calls for street extensions and elimination of offset intersections to relieve areas of congested traffic.
Campus housing is the other major component of the plan to be tackled in the next five to 10 years.
“We regret doing no housing in the last master plan,” he said. “Spencer feels it is the biggest problem on campus. It has been ignored for the past 20 years and it can’t be anymore.”
Greening said during his 10 years at SHSU, the Physical Plant has tried to keep the dorms in good condition but added that it is expensive.
“Our dorms are just tired. They’re old and they’ve been around for a long time,” he said. “You can go through and paint and put carpet down but when you walk through, it still looks like an old dorm.”
The master plan calls for two new 600-bed dorms on opposite ends of campus. One would be completed by 2005 and the other by 2010.
According to Greening, phase one of the master plan also calls for a new science building, renovations to Academic Building One, the library, teacher education complex and communications building. Construction of a new dance building, recital hall, University Advancement Center, Visitors Center, recreational sports facility and parking garages are also proposed.
Phase two may bring a demolition of some older buildings and construction of a new agriculture building and the second proposed dorm.
The plan also attempts to look as far into the future as 2050. By that year, SHSU will have many new academic buildings on top of the parking garages.
Greening said he realizes the developments recommended by the plan, particularly the number proposed for within the next five years, are unrealistic.
“The plan is pretty aggressive, there are a lot of things he proposes to get done,” he said. “Personally I don’t think we’ll see a lot of that happening.”
Greening said funding the developments would be the major stumbling block for the master plan.
“We have to worry about the funding issue. It will take a lot of money to get a program like this going,” he said. “I think you will see some things slipped back or even cancellations of some of the planned construction.”
In spite of this, Greening said implementing even part of Spencer’s vision will make SHSU a better university.
“Spencer wanted to make sure everything is functional and that we have a good quality campus,” he said. “He encompassed all of the ideas from all the different areas to create a campus that is the good learning environment we all need.”