April 17, 2024

Parking lot first in SWCC improvements

The parking lot of SWCC's Spartan Hall is first on the list of repairs and improvements on the new master facilities plan.

Southwestern Community College unveiled their new master facilities plan Tuesday night, which included fixing the Spartan Hall parking lot. The parking lot reconstruction was tentatively approved later that night.

SWCC Vice President of Economic Development Wayne Pantini explained the parking lot project should have been done previously, but the school ran out of time to complete it.

“There are potholes and cracking and the concrete is just beyond repair at this point in time. It really should have been done last year,” Pantini said.

SWCC is working with Garden & Associates, LTD on the reconstruction project, which will include seven other sidewalk improvements near Spartan Hall. The project is expected to cost about $420,000.

Because part of Student Drive goes through the parking lot, some areas of the lot may be eligible for Iowa DOT funds.

“There’s a portion of the Spartan Hall parking lot that’s actually part of Student Drive, so it’s technically a road. We have put in a request with the DOT to utilize a portion of those institutional road dollars,” Pantini said. He is hoping to receive about $62,000 from the DOT.

Bids on the project are due March 5, with a public hearing on the bids set for March 12. If all goes according to plan, Pantini expects the construction to begin the week after May graduation, lasting 80 days.

The Spartan Hall parking lot is far from the only item in the new master facilities plan. Built with help from INVISION Architecture and a SWCC steering committee, students, faculty and staff were interviewed on what they liked and wanted from the school.

These interviews resulted in a number of common themes. Students consistently listed a shortage of athletic facilities and access to high-speed internet as concerns, while staff believed the college needed more program offerings, new and updated facilities and newer technology.

Southwestern’s plan for the coming years will focus on these ideas. Along with the parking lot, the school is moving forward with the design and construction of a CDL addition to the agriculture science building. This CDL addition is thanks to a grant from the Iowa Workforce Development, which has awarded $665,000 to be used towards CDL training infrastructure.

SWCC will be adding a CDL addition to the agricultural sciences building.

“We’ll be putting together a new entrance into the ag site, a much bigger entrance through here and then adding an additional drive, because our CDL program is going to be located here. There will be the range course that goes along with that,” Pantini said. “We’ll put a small addition onto the existing facility that will accommodate the classroom space, training space, and some additional storage that will also be incorporated into this.”

The college is also looking to expand their athletic offerings, either through the remodeling of the leased Southwestern College Coliseum or by building a new practice center.

“What we need is a simple facility layout. We want to keep costs minimal from the get go,” SWCC Dean of Student Services Kim Bishop said. “[Our coaches] want to enjoy the space, they want to be able to have the opportunity to have cages for baseball, softball, to do some infield work. Our golf team needs some space to hit as well.”

Bishop said a new practice space could also help in growing the athletic offerings, such as gaining a wrestling or soccer team.

Other priorities in the master facilities plan included upgrading a number of HVAC units, replacing the roof of the student center, adding more security systems across campus and adding more signage across campus.

In other SWCC news...

SWCC will be hosting the 2024 Division II Men’s Basketball Region 11 Tournament March 1-3. The tournament will feature nine teams from the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference.

The same weekend SWCC will host the SMV Vocal Jazz Festival. The featured guest is award-winning jazz vocalist and pianist Laila Biali. The festival will have concerts at 4 p.m. on Feb. 29 and March 1.

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.