College construction good for local economy

(09-10-2008)

A new entrance for Plachy Hall is being constructed on the building's south side, formerly site of the tennis courts.

A new entrance for Plachy Hall is being constructed on the building's south side, formerly site of the tennis courts.

If growth is the only sign of life, it's obvious Adams State College is alive and kicking. That vitality will spread through the San Luis Valley, thanks to the economic impact of $60 million worth of construction projects the college plans over the next four years.

"We are embarking on an important era of campus renewal," said Adams State President, Dr. David Svaldi.

Architect's rendering of completed Plachy Hall remodeling.

Architect's rendering of completed Plachy Hall remodeling.

The tip of the iceberg is the $12 million renovation and expansion of Plachy Hall now underway thanks to state funding. In March, Adams State students passed a new capital fee to fund $35 million worth of improvements, with priority on building a new residence hall and renovating two academic buildings. Then in May, state legislation to assist higher education construction allotted $12.6 million toward the $14 million renovation of Richardson Hall, Adams State's oldest structure.

"This will be by far the most ambitious building endeavor on our campus in nearly 50 years," said Adams State Vice President for Administration and Finance, Bill Mansheim. "These projects will not only upgrade the college's infrastructure, but also bolster the local economy and provide a number of jobs."

ASC committed to local contractors

Local subcontracts account for more than $3.5 million of the total Plachy Hall project cost. More than half of the subcontractors are local firms, according to Erik van de Boogaard, Adams State associate vice president of facilities planning, design and construction. The general contractor is FCI, based in Grand Junction. FCI was also the general contractor on Adams State's 2002 theatre building and on renovation of the former science building to serve as the art building, two years earlier. In the mid-'90s, FCI worked on renovations to housing, the college center and Rex Gym.

Local contractors on Plachy Hall include Absmeier Landscaping & Construction, Alcon, Alpine Electric, American Electric, Blue Moon Bay Painting, Highland Cabinets, K2 Woodworking, Right Carpets, RMP Utilities, Samy Construction, Sherwin Williams, and Vendola Plumbing & Heating.

Plachy Hall's home team locker rooms are being completely remodeled, with wooden lockers constructed by Highland Cabinets. Separate locker rooms for visiting teams are also under construction.

Plachy Hall's locker rooms are being completely remodeled, with wooden lockers constructed by Highland Cabinets. Separate locker rooms for visiting teams are also under construction.

"ASC and FCI are committed to attracting and working with as many local sub contractors and suppliers as they can," van de Boogaard said. "In addition to the work created for these companies, the valley benefits from out-of-town subcontractors who spend money in our restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and supply houses."

Georgia Cook, vice president of Alcon Construction, Inc., noted the Plachy Hall project allowed her company to grow about 20 percent. Alcon is doing concrete and structural steel work, including constructing sidewalks and stairways.

"More construction definitely keeps more people employed," she said. "When you see other regions or other segments of our local economy slowing down; if the college is up, it is a huge benefit."

The college's normal operation is credited with an annual economic impact in the San Luis Valley of roughly $70 million, according to a 2005 study by San Luis Valley Development Resource Group. The study uses a multiplier of 1.7 for most of its impact calculations, meaning that every dollar spent by the college stimulates expenditure of another 70 cents locally.

A whole lot of building going on

The state-funded Plachy Hall project includes a 15,000-square-foot addition to house the Hall of Fame room, a new weight room, a new entrance, and public restrooms. The locker rooms were completely reconfigured and renovated and now include separate rooms for visiting teams. The entire project will be completed by spring 2009.

Planning has begun for new housing fee-supported renovations to the ES and Music buildings, all funded by the capital fee. ES and Music renovations will include technology upgrades, more efficient space configuration, and soundproofing.

"We need to determine the ideal configuration of our housing and recreation facilities to attract students and encourage upperclassmen to choose campus housing," van de Boogaard said.

This football season, the Grizzlies are breaking in new synthetic turf installed over the summer in Rex Field. The old grass field soaked up 2 million gallons of water per year, plus $7,000 worth of paint for field markings. The stadium project was funded by the new student-approved capital fee. Also planned is installation of lights around the field, permitting evening use for college and community events.

This summer the fee also supported $360,000 worth of new furnishings and appliances in student apartments, along with renovations in the Student Union Building (SUB) and Nielsen Library. Electronic access to government documents freed up space in Nielsen Library for an Information Commons, with completion planned by November. Following a national trend, the commons will be suited to group study, with a lounge, internet access, and espresso cart. The Brooks Haynie Multi-media Center will allow KASF radio to move into the SUB with the student newspaper. Outfitted with new media technology, it will support changes in the communications program. The center is named in memory of the late Brooks Haynie, associate professor of journalism and advisor to KASF.

Richardson Hall's overhaul will include new plumbing, heating, ventilation, and electrical systems, as well as ADA enhancements to the community auditorium. Plans also call for creation of a backup computer operations area to support campus disaster recovery/business continuity. The centerpiece of the campus, built in 1924, Richardson Hall houses administrative offices and academic programs.

Progress made over summer

Renovation of another campus landmark, the president's residence, was completed this summer, thanks to private donations. Dr. David and Virginia Svaldi moved into the newly renovated Spanish-style home in late July. It was christened The Marvel House, in honor of former president Dr. John Marvel, and his wife, Frances. Built in 1932, the house is listed in the City of Alamosa's Historic Registry, so care was taken to preserve its historic feel while upgrading mechanical, electrical, and telecommunications systems. Interior remodeling included creation of a great room for hosting public events.

Also this summer ASC Community Partnerships moved into a new outreach center in the renovated "barrel" building that formerly served as the art building. It was originally built in 1957 as the Student Union Memorial's ballroom.

The second phase of the campus irrigation project was completed in July. One component brought the college's artesian well online to water the soccer field and other areas, supplemented now by non-potable water from the city system.

In the Student Union Building, Adams State's food service Sodexho upgraded the food court decor with bistro-style booths, wood look flooring, and stone accents.

By Julie Waechter