Campus Growing Pains

Becca Lazzerl | Marlin Chronicle
Becca Lazzerl | Marlin Chronicle

By Becca Lazzeri

The hustle and bustle of construction work for the Greer Environmental Sciences Center (GESC) continues to impact Village 4 residents in many ways.
“I wake up every morning at 7 a.m. to construction workers yelling ‘You’re good’ and loud vehicles coming in and out,” junior Justin Erby said. Erby and four of his roommates all said they are concerned for not only the noise but also for the detour through Blocker Hall.
“It’s unnecessary that we have to walk through Blocker everyday just to get to the dining hall,” Erby’s roommate, junior CJ Nichols said.
Hourigan Construction Project Administrator Janice Robbins disagrees. “For the next 18 months, the detour will continue. It is a safety precaution that we have to take to keep students out of harm’s way,” Robbins said. The group recently completed a construction job at the Virginia Beach Tidewater Community College campus before they took on the GESC, and they had a similar detour protocol at that location as well.
Robbins said that with large cranes and other heavy machinery on site, it would be hazardous to allow students to enter through the gates again before construction is completed.
The detour requires students to walk around Village 4 by the parking lot and through Blocker. Some students said when Blocker is closed late at night, it makes the walk much more inconvenient.
Village 4 residents said the noise is disruptive mostly for those who live closest to the construction site. “It is like waking up every morning to an unexpected alarm clock. I still like Village 4 but it makes me think otherwise about where I want to live next year,” junior Taylor Erby said.
Robbins said the construction runs between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. and that all loud work ends in the afternoon to avoid disrupting residents in the evening.
In regards to students who are looking to live in Village 4 next year, Associate Director of Residence Life, Ashley Jones said she acknowledges the frustrations involved with the construction.
“I think the noise will definitely be a factor and is frustrating. I’m not sure what that will look like long term, but that’s something that just comes with construction. We are going to do everything we can to make sure that people will enjoy living out there. As campus grows, these are growing pains that will be felt throughout the campus and not just Village 4,” Jones said.
Students in Village 2 experienced a similar situation last year during the construction of Birdsong Field, and many said they agree that it is just part of attending a growing college.
“The construction is definitely affecting my decision for housing next year. I’d prefer to live in Village 3 or off campus. I don’t want to wake up at 7 a.m. every morning again next year,” freshman Daniel Petro said.
Dean of Students Keith Moore said regardless of construction, Village 4 is a desirable place for students to live. Batten Center Director Jason Seward said he agreed. “Once the construction is done, Village 4 is going to be the spot,” Seward said.
Construction is still scheduled to be completed by fall 2017, and major building will pick up during the summer months when students are on break.
“I think it’s going to be a challenge and deter some people. The Residence Life staff will work extra hard to make sure there is a great sense of community out there,” Jones said.
Robbins said she understands the construction is an inconvenience for residents of Village 4. However, she said the site office has an open door policy. Students are welcome to visit and ask any questions or view the virtual tour that is playing on a flat screen TV, which showcases the plans for the new science center.
The construction neighboring Village 4 will not be the end of campus growth.
“In addition to the Greer Center for Environmental Sciences, a new partnership building (with the YMCA) will be constructed in the Fall/Spring 2016/17 in the area near the arboretum. It will include three large classrooms, offices and an outdoor amphitheater. Both the Greer Center and the partnership facility are scheduled for completion in the summer 2017,” President Scott Miller said.
Furthermore, Miller said on Feb. 16, the Board of Trustees approved a five year capital plan that would allocate $42.5 million for further renovation and construction. He said the $14 million Fine and Performing Arts Center is still in the fund raising phase, and construction is scheduled to take place around 3 to 4 years from now.
Here is a link to the virtual tour of the GESC: