The next time you visit the Campus of St. Catharine College, you may not recognize it - and SCC President William D. Huston wouldn’t have it any other way. Since Huston first revealed the construction plan nearly a year ago, some significant changes have occurred on the drawing board - some of them planned and some implemented out of necessity. Huston addressed the changes to SCC faculty and staff at a meeting held March 14.
"The first project I would like to update you about is Aquinas Hall," Huston told the crowd. "That 100-bed, private room residence hall is still on schedule to be completed the first week in June. We have a lot of events happening on-campus this summer and a lot of these rooms are going to be occupied week after week. That dorm is an integral part of our summer vision for the College. No longer are we an institution where, following graduation, there isn’t much activity until August. We have something booked each week from the time of graduation until the students come back in August and it’s going to grow each year in capacity that we are growing each year."
The President then talked about some changes to the new Athletic Complex along US-150.
"The main difference between the athletic complex we are building today and what you saw earlier on our Master Plan is the road shown on the plan that is between the soccer field and the tennis courts will be moved to the north of the tennis courts and those courts will be moved down closer to the track," added Huston. "That will allow for the construction of a T-shaped building between the track and the tennis courts that will serve as restrooms, storage and a press box for soccer, tennis and track."
Construction of the new track and tennis courts hasn’t been without a few unanticipated hiccups. While leveling the field, a large rock deposit was found under the surface. Crews were forced to blast much of the rock out of the earth over the course of a few weeks.
"Our biggest concern was the rock wall but it is not going to be as big a concern as we thought it would be initially", added Huston. "We’re not behind schedule on that, but we can’t afford to lose too many days because of the weather. The new athletic complex will be a beautiful facility. The soccer field, the NCAA-regulation eight-lane track, the new tennis courts and the softball field will all be under lights at the conclusion of this project. All of this will enhance the view of St. Catharine College as it borders the new US-150 bypass."
On the subject of the new US-150 bypass, Huston said, "We were within about seven days of opening the bypass after Thanksgiving and the Department of Transportation decided to order a change to have a roundabout at the end of Locust Lane. Instead of having a traffic light or a four-way stop, they thought the traffic would always be moving with the roundabout option. That took a little bit longer to design, so that project will be taking shape throughout the next few weeks. They say everything there should be open by the first of May."
Once the roundabout is in place across from the St. Catharine Motherhouse and the bypass is open, the old section of US-150 in front of the College will be closed to through traffic.
"Once that road is transferred over to Washington County, we will partner with them to modify that road to include a landscaped median where the center lane used to be," Huston said. "That way, when you first come into the Campus, it will be a much softer appeal than having a highway like we have right now. Once that is completed, that road will be deeded to the College."
Huston also told the crowd that the College is looking into acquiring additional property directly across the road from the Campus.
"We have the opportunity to purchase some additional acreage," he said. "This was presented to the Board of Trustees several weeks ago. This would be two tracts of land - the first one is about six acres adjoining the connecting road for the new bypass. On our Master Plan, we show two facilities in that section - one would be a student-friendly facility housing Admissions, Financial Aid and the Registrar Office. The second is a Convocation Center, but we don’t think there is enough room for a Convocation Center with the current houses sitting on that property."
On the opposite side of the by-pass connector is a tract of 32 acres.
"We have also made a proposal to the landowner to purchase that land as well," Huston added. "All of those tracts together would be between 36-38 acres and would give us complete control of the connector road as far as facilities are concerned and would give us a two-mile stretch of the bypass where we would have a presence. This figures very realistically into our long range plan."
Huston said he hopes to see dirt moving on the St. Catharine Campus for a long time.
"These new tracts, if acquired, would fit in very positively with the land we already own," he said. "That would give us close to 100 acres of land and I think that would be sufficient for our growth during the next 20 years."