Wilson College launches rehab/construction projects

By AMBER SOUTH and JIM HOOK, Staff writers Chambersburg Public Opinion PublicOpinionOnline.com

Wilson College will continue its transformation to a co-ed institution with a number of construction and modernization projects this summer.

With male students age 22 and older being admitted as commuters this fall, the campus will undergo building renovations, facility updates and a general refreshing of its overall look.

The renovation of McElwain/Davison Hall will be a major project starting this summer, costing $2.64 million, said Cathy Mentzer, media relations manager. Nicknamed MacDav, it is one of the campus’ highest-occupancy residence halls, said Brian Speer, vice president of communications and marketing. It shares a building with Lenfest Commons, which is home to the dining hall, book store and student gathering spaces.

Work on MacDav will include new floors, ceilings and mattresses; painting; updates to lounges, laundry and the community kitchen; the addition of air conditioning; upgrades to mechanical and electrical systems; and improving handicap access per the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Design work will start this month and construction will take place through the fall semester. The building is expected to be ready for the spring 2014 semester, Mentzer said. It has been a long time since any work has been done to update the building, Speer said.

Work on a temporary student center will start this month and cost $500,000, Mentzer said. Completion is expected by mid fall.

The project became necessary when the campus library’s heating system failed and those operations moved to Sarah’s Coffeehouse in Lenfest Commons. That facility was the main student gathering place, so the student center will fill that need at least on a temporary basis, Mentzer said. The student center will be moved into the space that is now the fitness center in Lenfest Commons. A ramp that runs through the area will be taken out. Upholstered furniture, a TV and a kitchenette and tables will go in. Furniture and tables can be moved around to accommodate various social events, Mentzer said.

“(Students) want to have food events in there regularly,” she said.

An enclosed game room will be put at the back of the student center. It will also be a flexible area for social events.

The fitness center will move to a space at the end of MacDav that is currently referred to as the old gym.

“Between those three projects – the MacDav, the student center and the fitness center – it’s going to create a really nice hub in the center of campus that’s newly renovated,” Speer said.

Smaller projects will revitalize the outdoor surroundings, with fresh pavement on walking paths, new sidewalks, and painting to the exterior of Lenfest Commons and Norland Hall, Mentzer said.

Frank E. Gannett Memorial Field House will see $55,000 in improvements, including upgrading locker rooms and installing new padding and backboards at the basketball court.

Another $55,000 will go toward hiring a consultant to develop a campus enhancement plan on needed facility upgrades, Mentzer said. Possibilities include buildings, grounds, athletics and signage.

As initiatives developed this winter by the Commission on Shaping the Future of Wilson College begin to take shape, it is likely that more students than ever will be available to enjoy the campus upgrades. The commission was a 23-member panel representing all campus interest groups and tasked with coming up with ideas to increase enrollment and financial sustainability.

“(The upgrades) will definitely help in both attracting and retaining students,” Speer said.