McNeill to get face lift in summer 2007

Phase one of project scheduled to run from 2007 to 2013. Total cost: $52 million

What some call a long overdue redevelopment plan for campus residences—most of which have not seen renovations for over 40 years—was approved by the Board of Trustees last Friday.

Roxy Denniston-Stewart, associate dean of student affairs, said a development committee has been working with a hired firm to plan the renovations since July 2004.

“We came up with a plan to address the priorities as we had established them,” she told the Journal. “First-year students are a priority. We wanted to create a sense of home, increase accessibility, improve areas where students interact and increase security.”

Denniston-Stewart said that common rooms and ground floors of residences have been going unused, while some washrooms are in “particular disrepair.” She said the project would not be making any structural changes.

“What this project is not, is a renovation in changing the property,” she said. “We’re improving the existing space with minor alterations.”

Phase one of the proposed redevelopment will take place in the summers to avoid interrupting the school year. Work will begin in 2007 with renovations in McNeill House, followed by Morris Hall in 2008, Jean Royce Hall in 2010, Leonard Hall in 2012 and Gordon Hall in 2013. Denniston-Stewart said dates for phase two have not yet been decided.

“Phase one will go from 2007 to 2013—it’s a long time,” she said. “Somewhere in that time frame we’ll make some decisions about the timing of phase two, which will [include] the remainder of the buildings.”

MCRC President Alexis Meyerman said that while residence improvements are a good thing, it’s important to keep the costs low in order to ensure financial accessibility for all first-year students, as well as to have student input. She said an information meeting that was held last night in Ban Righ was the first opportunity students had to give feedback on the project.

“It’s a good project, we just feel that it’s really important that there’s a lot of student consultation on it,” she said.

Denniston-Stewart said the current proposal is a continuation of the $67 million plan that was discussed last year, albeit with some changes.

“This is the same plan, although the figure we’re talking about is not $67 million but closer to $51 to $52 million, which is an estimated cost of all of the buildings in 2005 dollars,” she said. “This is all based on preliminary costing.” Funding for the mortgages on the project will mainly come from students. Denniston-Stewart said there would be a three to four per cent annual increase in student fees for the next ten years, which would include not only the renovations but regular increases in the cost of living and any other special projects.

“Based on budget, the project looks do-able within these parameters,” she said.

Meyerman said because residence is an auxiliary of the University and is entirely funded from student fees, students should dictate the changes that take place.

“Every dollar that is spent on residence comes from the students,” she said. “I just want to make sure students can provide feedback so that it is responsive to their needs.”

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