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New dorm coming, West remaining

By Wade Allen
Editor
Dec. 3, 2009

Freshmen Jeremy Blankenship (left), John Rice and Danny Dodd
Photo by Glory Attaochu
Freshmen Jeremy Blankenship (left), John Rice and Danny Dodd hang out in the West Hall courtyard on Nov. 23. West Hall is over 40 years old and houses male students, particularly underclassmen.
With UNCP experiencing unprecedented growth and the largest freshman class in history, the question of where students are going to reside becomes an issue quickly.

New dorm
At the Student Affairs and Campus Life Committee meeting on Nov. 16, Director of Housing and Residence Life Preston Swiney discussed and presented a plan for a new residence hall.

“We’ve had some designs we’ve been looking at,” Swiney said. “When you’re looking at a project that’s $5 million, you want to make sure you get it right the first time.”

Swiney said that Metcon Construction Company had been hired to complete the project. The new dorm is scheduled to open in July 2011.

Location
According to Swiney, the University looked at many areas around campus before ultimately deciding to construct the new dorm near Village Apartments.

Swiney said that a student focus group had been formed to generate input about the location.

“We’ve had many students say, ‘It’d be nice to get away from some of the trains,’” Swiney said.

According to Swiney, West Hall dormitory was scheduled to be demolished in May 2009. West Hall is one of the oldest functioning dorms on campus and houses male students, particularly freshmen.

Now that a new dorm is in the construction planning phase, many people wonder what will happen to West Hall and what parking problems the new dorm will present.

“We may not be able to demolish West Hall,” Swiney said. “We don’t think at this time we can lose the 200 beds [in West].”

Many floors
Swiney said that he was excited to have the new residence hall “back on the front burner” and that it would probably be five to six stories tall, although he is concerned about losing revenue and housing arrangements.

Swiney said that he wants to “keep West open next year to generate $600,000 to $700,000 in revenue.”

Parking
There has been lengthy discussion in the past about demolishing West Hall in order to accommodate more parking spaces.

An idea about constructing a parking deck was presented at the meeting to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Dr. Diane O. Jones.

“We do have a parking deck on our long range plan,” Dr. Jones said. “It’s very, very expensive.”

Dr. Jones said that the possibility still remains that West Hall could be demolished and made into a parking lot, although that seemed unlikely.

Swiney said that once the Housing and Residence Life office vacates a building, it is turned over to the University for them to use or demolish, as they see fit.

“It could be turned into faculty and staff offices,” Swiney said.

Dr. Jones expressed concern about the safety of West Hall and the fact that some people might find it unsatisfactory.

“The bathroom facilities [in West Hall] are not desirable,” Dr. Jones said. “It’s not sprinkled [for fire safety], which is a major cost.”

With West Hall and Wellons Hall both being occupied by males, Swiney said that he is trying to figure out the right number of beds in the new dorm so that there is room for everyone.

Dorm construction unearths old concerns

A crowd of freshmen students
Photo by Glory Attaochu
A crowd of freshmen students gather outside of GPAC before freshman orientation. This year, UNCP had its largest incoming freshman class and housing was an issue for the University.
Gender ratio
The new dorm, according to Swiney, will be the largest and, like Oak and Pine halls, will be co-ed.

Swiney said that there were 1,705 beds on campus and that Housing and Residence Life cannot “take 200 [beds] away from males and not adjust it somewhere.”

“West and Wellons are both over 40 years old,” Swiney said.

He said that many male residents preferred living in Wellons Hall because the rooms are larger in size, making them more comfortable.

Accommodations
Swiney said that they are planning on constructing common areas in the new dorm, which has not been named yet.

“We’re predicting an upturn in the economy,” Swiney said.

“We have to make sure we have the right number of beds,” he said. “With our sharp increase in enrollment, we think we’re going to keep it at 396 beds.”

Swiney said that when the new dorm project was planned two years ago, “there was never any parking [in the project].”

Near Village
The area of construction is located near the Facilities Operations building and Village Apartments.

According to Swiney, the student focus group said that they would not mind being away from campus dining services and the on-campus post office. He said that many students pointed out since Village Apartments was located near the same area, many students would not have to adjust.

According to Swiney, the property on which the new residence hall will be constructed is 12 acres.

“It’s plenty of space,” he said.

 

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Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2009
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