By Nicole Hurban
Editor Liz Green
Cumberland County College broke ground on May 17, 2013. This marked the beginning of the first phase of an extensive 10.5 million dollar, state-funded, Facility Master Plan construction project that has been in the works for several years. The project includes improvements to many existing structures such as the Administrative Building, Academic Building, the Distance Learning Building being converted to the NOC [ Network Operations Center ], and a new IT office there with a new “fiber loop” that will run throughout the campus, and additional work in the parking lots and roadways that have partially been completed.
The 45-year-old Administrative Building will receive a 4,000 square foot addition. The addition will include a new conference room that will double as a classroom for Student Senate, clubs, faculty meetings, and a few smaller conference rooms. Some of the individuals who work in this building will have to work from trailers, at some point, until the addition and renovations are completed.
In the Academic Building, there will be a new elevator for student, faculty, and visitor use, more efficient entrances that will be handicap accessible, the handicapped ramp will be removed to subside flooding issues, three new classrooms are being added, and three Collaboratoriums or areas for students to gather and study or just relax will be placed inside the building. The exterior walls are also being renovated. The Academic Building is also receiving new energy-efficient windows. The renovation of the exterior will be phased until the winter break so the architects, Daley and Jalboot, and contractor, Ogren Construction, can handle the project properly without having to relocate students and faculty.
“The new fiber optics are one of the biggest benefits of the entire project,” said John Pitcher, Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services at Cumberland County College, who is oversing the project. Pitcher explained that the underground fiber is a network that will give the campus unlimited bandwidth and high-speed-internet connections. No matter who is using a computer or other device in the classroom, there will never be a disruption.
Another great feature, the new “fiber loop” provides is a failsafe. If, for some reason, a connection is cut from one building the other buildings will be self-sustaining. The connection will work as if nothing happened.
Other than the work on the existing structures, there are many other small projects currently underway. There are new student drop off lanes throughout the campus, which makes the dropping off of students much more safe and efficient. The drop off lanes allow for traffic to flow freely so there is less congestion in the morning hours. Improved sidewalks and cross walks are also included.
A designated smoking area will be added as well. The area will be complete with an open structure for smokers. This area will be created so individuals who choose to smoke, on campus, will no longer be forced to stand in the lettered parking lots or sit in their cars. The area will be located by the bus stop that is being renovated. The renovation will allow for easier bus access.
The construction has been raising many concerns, at the present time, even though the efforts have good intentions. The distractions such as loud noises that occur during classes, blocked off entrances, and the constant questions created by the construction, have been taking a toll on students and faculty alike. Pitcher said, “When we hear of that [distractions] we try to minimize the disruption.” Pitcher then went on to say that the construction plans have been organized into phases to allow students to carry on as usual and apologizes for any issues.
Even though there is a considerable amount of construction going on, the project is on schedule. Joe Santini, who works for Arthur J. Ogren, owner of Ogren Construction has been with the company for over 20 years. He is a Superintendent and Union Carpenter, overseeing all the construction occurring on campus. After speaking with Santini, he confirmed that the project was going well and believes it will be completed, according to plan, in 2014.