by jamesc 3/9/2017 4:50:17 PM --
NORFOLK, NE – Northeast Community College has achieved significant success since its humble beginnings here over 40-years ago. From its modest start with four buildings and just over 1,000 students in 1973 to over 30 structures and 18,000 students today, the College is now looking toward the future on how it can best serve its students and constituents.
On Thursday, the College Board of Governors unanimously approved the 2017 Northeast Community College Master Site and Facilities Plan (MSFP), a 100-page document that will serve as a guide to ensure new and existing facilities will include teaching, learning and support services designed to provide every opportunity for student success.
The comprehensive process to create the plan began over a year ago. Northeast staff, faculty and students took part in nearly 50 sessions over the past 12-months with representatives of BVH Architecture and others to discuss how best to improve all of the College’s buildings and grounds to most effectively deliver essential programs and services.
Dan Worth, project manager with BVH, said the recommendations offered in the plan are based on extensive amounts of background data and reports, stakeholder input, assessment of existing conditions and a shared exploration of ideas and strategies to meet the needs of the college.
“The document does not attempt to provide a prioritized list of projects or proposed implementation schedule. Rather, the recommendations summarized in the plan will allow Northeast to implement projects and strategies with flexibility, as it sees fit, and within the parameters that exist at a given point of time.”
The plan not only takes into account proposed new facilities in the future, but cites the continued use and maintenance of current facilities, several of which were constructed over 40-years ago.
To determine future use of the College and its properties, architects, academic and space planning professionals, structural, mechanical, landscape, and traffic engineers meticulously scrutinized facility utilization and space needs, land use, building infrastructure conditions, open space and traffic circulation systems, landscape and sustainable design.
Some of the plan’s highlighted recommendations for the Norfolk Campus include:
- Ring Road. This would allow major auto/truck traffic to circumnavigate campus to help alleviate a number of safety issues.
- Perimeter parking. Once an exterior circulation system is in place, personal vehicle parking could be moved to the perimeter of campus to allow students and visitors to easily park and walk unobstructed to the interior of campus.
- Pedestrian Connections. The creation of additional paths and sidewalks would create a safe walking and biking pedestrian environment.
- Campus Zones. The ring road and perimeter parking would create safe areas in the core area of campus and allow for it to be divided into five corresponding campus zones - academic core, applied technologies, athletic fields, campus support and resident student life.
Some of the proposed new facilities the plan has identified on the Norfolk Campus include a performing arts addition onto the Lifelong Learning Center; a residence hall adjacent to the Hawks Point dining facility; expansion of the existing Student Center to include the library, campus services, and academic advising and support, a student life center near the Cox Activities Center; and the expansion of the J. Paul and Eleanor McIntosh College of Nursing to accommodate the growth in Northeast’s Allied Health programs.
The MSFP also takes into account improvements to accommodate Northeast’s intercollegiate athletic programming on the Norfolk Campus. A new competition sports complex proposed in an area just west of Victory Road would include a baseball field, two softball fields and a soccer field with facilities for concessions, locker rooms and restrooms. Additional recreational space for the general student population is also recommended in the on-campus housing area, Hawks Village.
In addition, the Master Site and Facilities Plan includes proposed improvements to Northeast’s Extended Campus in South Sioux City. This includes adding adjacent buildings to accommodate both academic programs as well as technical offerings. Furthermore, a soccer/recreation field on the southern edge of the extended campus would be available for intramural use.
The Master Site and Facilities Plan also accommodates two major projects the College has begun developing over the past few years.
Northeast’s Agriculture and Water Center of Excellence is designed to enhance ag programming at the institution with an emphasis on soil health and water conservation, as well as provide faculty support and new facilities.
If land is secured from the State of Nebraska, the College would also like to develop a Technology Applied Research Park on vacated Norfolk Regional Center property on Victory Road, with nearby access to all the educational resources of Northeast Community College.
The development of the Master Site and Facilities Plan was a direct outgrowth of the strategic vision, mission and goals of Northeast. For that reason, the plan has strongly relied on guidance from the College’s Vision 2020 strategic plan, according to Dr. Michael Chipps, college president.
“Northeast is always focused on its Vision 2020 plan and its four overarching strategic goals of student success, student access, preparing a globally competitive workforce and maximizing and developing its resources. As the college community began the process, all participants were reminded to consider how to best achieve these goals through the lens of the master facilities and site plan.”
Chipps called the MSFP a guiding document that future administrations can use to determine facility prioritization over a period of time.
“The plan does not rank any project; it only identifies the needs as determined by a number of our students, faculty and staff and architects and engineers. We have been excellent stewards in maintaining our buildings over the years and this care has extended the life of our facilities, but to be frank, many of them are showing their age after nearly a half-century of use. This plan will help determine how to proceed in meeting future facility needs.”
Chipps stressed that the document is a long-range planning tool with many of the projects that may be identified today, designed to be considered well into the future.
“Each Nebraska community college is charged by state statute to serve its constituency. With this in mind, the MSFP is designed to assist future leaders of Northeast to determine what teaching and learning will look like in the years to come. New facilities are not constructed to simply be constructed; they are built around the needs of students, the increase in technical education and size of equipment, and a growing reliance on technology, among other factors. This has and will continue to be the determining factor in how to move forward.”
Chipps said he has never seen a better master facilities plan than the one proposed.
“I commend our Northeast staff and others and the architects and engineers for putting such a wonderful plan together. I am confident this master site and facilities plan, in association with the Vision 2020 strategic plan, will allow Northeast to continue to be the quality institution for which it is known and provide our students a wonderful place to learn and grow.”