Alfred bustling this summer
Alfred is bustling this summer with major construction projects being undertaken on the Alfred University (AU) campus and downtown.
The University will spend more than $10 million this summer to upgrade athletics and recreational facilities for students.
Projects include installation of a softball field; improvements to McLane Center, including new locker room facilities for women athletes; construction of an events pavilion at Merrill Field, and the addition of an annex to McLane Center.
“For our women athletes, some of the most-welcome improvements will be a new home field for softball, as well as improvements to our locker room facilities in McLane,” said Kathy Woughter ‘93, vice president for Student Affairs.
The University has had a practice field for softball on campus for several years, but home games have been played off-site, most recently in Hornell, or at Alfred State College since Alfred began fielding a team 20 years ago.
Construction will start later this summer on a softball field that will allow the varsity softball team to play games on its home turf. The field will meet, or exceed, all requirements established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Woughter noted.
“We are planning a facility our players can be proud of,” said Woughter.
As the $14.5 million “Score One for Alfred” campaign – the first major fund-raising effort to support athletics at Alfred University – progresses, Woughter said amenities may be added.
“Rather than delay the start of construction until we had completed the fund-raising campaign, we are proceeding with a softball field this summer, allowing our students to host games this year on their own field,” said Woughter.
In McLane Center, the University’s physical education center that was constructed in the early 1970s before Title IX increased the emphasis on women’s sports, the women’s locker room is being renovated, and other improvements, including installation of a new boiler for heating, are being undertaken.
The “big ticket” item that will begin this summer, with anticipated completion date of fall 2013, is an addition to McLane Center that will have open court spaces, a practice track, a multipurpose room and locker room facilities.
“As we have added teams, club sports and recreational activities over the years, we have increased the need for space to meet our students’ interests. With the McLane Annex, we will be able to accommodate most of our students’ needs for recreational and athletics practice space,” said Woughter.
Another result of the “Score One for Alfred” campaign is a pavilion to be built on the south end of Merrill Field, thanks to a gift from Greg ’92 and Jeni Wetzel ‘94 Connors. The pavilion will be used to host alumni receptions and other events during home games on Merrill Field, where football, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s lacrosse are played.
New look for Ade Hall
Students returning to campus in mid-August will see major changes to Ade Dining Hall and to several residence halls.
The University has partnered with AVI Fresh, the food service contractor for AU, to undertake a renovation of Ade Hall, one of two dining halls on campus. “With funding from AVI, we are redoing Ade Hall to make it much more hospitable for our students,” said Michael Neiderbach, executive director of capital operations. Ade Hall was built in 1963 and designed to accommodate 520 students in the second-floor dining hall. The first floor originally served as a reception area, in an era when more formal meals were the norm. It also featured two private dining rooms for small groups.
As trends in dining changed, with more flexible hours and more varied menus, the first floor became used less and less. In recent years, the MidKnight Express, a short-order/deli outlet where students could be served after regular hours, was created downstairs, and it has grown in popularity.
The renovation will provide additional seating areas for the MidKnight Express, as well as provide lounge areas for the students, said Neiderbach.
“We are installing new infrastructure, new ceiling and lights, and new furniture,” to make the space more inviting, said Neiderbach. The floor space will be divided into areas where students can gather in front of a fireplace to talk, another area where they can watch TV, and yet other areas with a variety of tables and chairs for dining.
Upstairs, too, there will be more subtle changes to make the large space feel more comfortable and intimate. Seating capacity will be about 475.
The work will cost an estimated $1.5 million and is scheduled to be finished by the time classes begin in August.
Cannon and Barresi, two first-year residence halls that each accommodate 85-100 students, are being spruced up with new bathrooms, new flooring and other upgrades, at an estimated cost of $1.425 million. The University received funding through the New York State Higher Educational Capital Program to cover a portion of the costs.
New bathrooms are being installed in Norwood, one of the Pine Hill Suite buildings; Phillips, another one of the suite buildings, will have new flooring and furniture.
Academic buildings are also seeing some improvements, with upgrades to Seidlin Lecture Hall, and to a classroom in the Science Center, said Neiderbach.
All work is scheduled to be completed by the start of school.
Changes at Main Street businesses
A grant from the New York Main Street Program (NYMSP) to the village of Alfred is allowing businesses to make downtown improvements.
A volunteer advisory committee, led by Justin Grigg, AU’s environmental studies/ geospatial technology specialist, advised the village in how to use the funding. Grigg says it’s important to improve downtown for the campus and village communities.
“As Alfred’s downtown serves as the core of a college town and the hub of a rural village, it is crucial for us to support our businesses,” says Grigg. “It welcomes the families of prospective students and returning alumni and provides us with places to purchase many of our day-to-day needs. A beautiful, vibrant downtown is a reflection of who we are as a village.”
Grigg says the NYMSP gives priority to communities that will improve their historic fabric, promote, stabilize and/or expand businesses and mixed-use buildings, and the attractiveness of their downtown.
The advisory committee members are Amanda Burns; Tricia Debertolis, assistant dean for New Student Programs at AU; Larry Greil, AU professor of sociology; Grigg (chair); Dan Lee; Drew McInnes; and Charlotte Rice. Grigg notes the committee would not have been a success without the tireless efforts of the village’s clerk/treasurer, Kathy Koegel.
“We were notified Aug. 31, 2010, by the NYS Housing Trust Fund Corp. Office of Community Renewal that we were a recipient of the 2010 NYMSP funds,” says Grigg.
NYS Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) plays an active role in the approval of all New York Main Street project work. The Committee and property owners worked with SHPO to strengthen Alfred’s Historic District status.
Grigg says the response from property and business owners pleased the committee.
“Our goal was to fairly distribute the program funds to as many properties as possible. We think the outcome will be worth the effort.”
Grigg says the committee hopes Alfred students will be excited for all of the changes. He points out that some changes made for safety and energy efficiency will be less visible than others.
“A primary motivation for the grant team was to provide a boost to downtown businesses as they are so important to Alfred’s fabric. An attractive downtown we all enjoy is a positive for everyone,” says Grigg. “When students return, we hope they patronize Alfred’s businesses and discover all that our Main Street has to offer.”
The construction work must be completed by the end of July; the grant agreement expires at the end of August. Grigg says no other downtown improvements plans are in the works at this time.
“The focus is on completing this one,” says Grigg, though “we are hopeful this will not be the last project of this type to occur in Alfred.”