A parking garage combined with a child care center is a major project proposed.
By Jakoby West
The upcoming bond election asking voters to approve $450 million in general obligation bonds to fund projects across the Alamo Colleges will include $83 million for this college.
The bond will not cause an increase in the district’s tax rate for debt service at current property value assessment levels, according to a slide presentation available on the Alamo Colleges website proposing the need for the bond.
Out of the 205 buildings that make up the Alamo Colleges, 35 buildings across the campuses are between 25 to 50 years old, while 32 buildings are over 50 years old, according to the presentation. This college is the second oldest in the district. St. Philip’s College is the oldest.
In the projects slated for this college, $4.5 million would be used for improvements to McAllister Fine Arts Center.
“That’s one of the older buildings on campus,” Dr. Stella Lovato, vice president of college services, said in an interview on April 5. McAllister opened in April 1957.
Lovato would not comment on proposed improvements to McAllister, and Jeff Hunt, chair of fine arts, was unavailable.
Another $20 million would be earmarked for renovations to Fletcher Administration Center, which is identified in bond materials as Fletcher Student Success Building. The main entry would be expanded.
The renovations would be to make it easier for students visiting the building to get everything they need as soon as they walk in the door, Lovato said.
“It’s kind of like we’re upgrading customer service,” she said. “We want Fletcher to be a one-stop destination when providing for students.”
Edie Huff, senior supervisor under outreach and recruitment and often the first person students interact with when entering Fletcher, hopes the bond will allow her to help students more effectively by adding computers to her office.
“They (administration) want to make Fletcher more student-friendly and more user-friendly,” Huff said in an interview April 13.
Huff, who has been working at this campus for 41 years, said the building as a whole has not been renovated for as long as she can remember. Administrative offices, however, have been renovated multiple times.
Another $20 million is planned construct a parking garage to attempt to satisfy the need for more parking spaces, Lovato said.
The base level of the parking garage would be home to a child care center.
“That’ll be very exciting because we will have more parking and a new facility. But also because where the child education center is right now, it’s also a building that is very old,” she said.
The early childhood studies center is located at 210 W. Ashby. The building previously was a medical facility.
Lovato said that it is safer to have the child care center on the ground floor of the parking garage than on any other level, but she couldn’t comment on why the two structures were combined.
“Keep in mind, there is going to be a playground and they are going to have windows all the way around. It’s going to be great,” she said.
Vanessa Torres, director of public relations, was unable to comment before deadline about bond projects.
Dr. Ellen Marshall, chair of early childhood studies, sociology, social work and history, was also unable to comment.
She referred to a handout dated November 2016, which instructs district employees to “direct citizens and other interested individuals to the district bond election website and official district contact regarding their questions about the bond election.” The official district contact is the office of legal services.
Radio-television-broadcasting sophomore Adam Smith thinks the negative stigma around parking garages and their portrayal in the media as crime hotspots should raise concern.
“There tends to be crime in a lot of parking garages so putting children on the ground floor of that is concerning to me,” Smith said in an interview April 10.
“I’m also worried about little kids being around vehicles driven by students. Sometimes, people drive crazy if they are late for class or something,” he said.
Lovato said renovations and improvements on campus are an ongoing process.
“(This campus) is 60 acres. Every time you turn around something is going to need to be repaired or worked on,” she said. “It’s time to get everything taken care of.”
Other projects proposed for this college are $15 million for the law enforcement and first responders center of excellence in Von Ormy; $14 million for finance and science center of excellence; $5 million for physical plant; and $4.5 million for physical plant improvements.
For more information about the upcoming bond election, read this article: http://theranger.wpengine.com/2017/01/23/board-calls-for-a-may-bond-election/