From today’s Daily Barometer by Kate Montgomery (Issue date: 4/11/11 Section: News):
The accelerated timeline proposed by administration last term is reconsidered
After exploring an accelerated timeline for construction of the Student Experience Center and remodeling of the Memorial Union, Oregon State University administration has decided to stick with the first, slower schedule.
This reconsideration was largely due to the fact that the accelerated timeline would have caused a revenue loss of $17.99 million for the students of OSU. The SEC will also be larger and house more programs than previously thought.
The Student Fee Impact committee sent a letter in early March to OSU administration asking for an open dialogue and explaining the financial effects of a new timeline.
One of those effects would be less time for the University to sell bonds, leading to a loss of initial construction funds. The OSU Bookstore would also have to move earlier than planned, causing a revenue loss by the rent that they pay the MU. Lastly, the accelerated timeline also would have required simultaneous construction projects.
Alexandra Leziy-Miller, a first year student in the MBA program and member of the Student Fee Impact Committee, said that it was the difference between “…three projects in five years with different starting dates to just two different projects.”
The third project she was referring to was the possible remodeling of the low-rise portion of Snell.
All told, the SFIC estimated that a $17.99 million dollar loss of revenue would result from the faster schedule.
While the students are ultimately paying to have the building built, the bulk of the initial funding is generated by OSU selling bonds. The university will start selling bonds by the fall term of 2011, and will have to begin paying them back starting summer of 2012.
The bonds will be paid back through a $48 per term per student fee, according to Jennifer Creighton-Neiwert, the Finance and Accounting Manager for the Auxiliaries and Activities Business Center, and Co-Chair of the SFIC.
“No matter what (plans change), that $48 per student per term will not change. If it changed, we’d have to go through a whole new referendum and get it approved by the students,” Creighton-Neiwert said.
Opsis Architecture is currently due to start “breaking ground in early 2012 and finishing by June 2013,” according to Eric Alexander, Director of Student Leadership and Involvement.
After the financial issue, the second-most challenging aspect of this project is the plans for Snell Hall. Originally, and in the accelerated timeline, Snell Hall would have been gradually closed so that only the low-rise portion to the West would be in use. That area was to be kept for student activities and programs, such as the Craft Center. Now the building is to be completely vacated.
There are rumors that the plans for closing Snell were because it was unsafe, but that may not be true according to Larrie Easterly, the University Engineer Manager.
“Snell Hall is not unsafe; it has merely outlived its usefulness,” Easterly said. “At some point it, will be demolished, but that’s not in the immediate future.”
Accordingly to Easterly, the area that Snell occupies may become another classroom building, which is necessary due to the ever-increasing enrollment at OSU.
It is also important to note that the possible plans for Snell do not come under the jurisdiction of the SEC project, according to Michael Henthorne, director of the MU.
“Our project (the SEC) is not responsible for the demolition of Snell,” Henthorne said.
Another one of the common questions in regards to the SEC and Snell is, where will everyone go? Most of the programs that were based in Snell are being moved to the SEC, as was always the plan.
Originally, however, several important programs were being left out, including the Food Pantry, Craft Center, and Counseling and Psychological Services.
“The Craft Center and Food Pantry have always had a home (either in the SEC or in the renovated East Wing of the MU), it was just unsure as to which location they would land,” Leziy-Miller said. “As of now, they are both in the SEC.”
However, CAPS, a critical resource by any standard, is still homeless.
Though the OSU Bookstore has not announced a decision for sure, it is in negotiations to leave the MU before its lease is up in 2014. It is deemed likely that it will want to move into the parking garage on SW 26th Street.
Some may be wondering what this building will actually look like. The reason there is no floor plan as of yet is due to the rigorous qualification process that must be gone through when trying to build a new building in a federally sanctified Historic District, as OSU is.
The qualifications are “things like brick walls, and only concern the outside of the building,” according to Easterly. Several plans are being run through a committee whose specific purpose is to enforce the Historic District guidelines.
Once three mock-ups have made it through that committee, Opsis Architecture will formally submit the possibilities to OSU.
Henthorne has stated that his intention is to hold a “public design session” in which the students will have a large say. The date, time and manner in which this session will be held have not been set.
Though many aspects of the plans surrounding the SEC have changed many times, the purpose of the project remains the same: to build a resource that will improve the experiences of students here at OSU.
Kate Montgomery, staff writer