NORFOLK, NE – For many years, the Northeast Community College campus in Norfolk has experienced drainage challenges, including water pooling at various locations and runoff affecting some facilities. Whenever there has been a good measure of rain, areas of campus have faced varying degrees of flooding. However, major infrastructure work is in progress in order for those issues to become faint memories.
The work taking place on the northern and western portions of campus is designed to divert storm water and channel it through an underground drainage system.
Brandon McLean, executive director of physical plant, said, “The storm water will be managed through a network of below grade piping that all connect to a 48-inch concrete pipe and released into a detention pond on the west side of campus. This will allow the water to be held and drain slowly into the city’s flood control.”
McLean said the new system will take care of drainage problems that the College has continually experienced.
“In the past, we had students walking through an open drainage ditch to get from one area to another. During the winter, the snow melt, ponding and ice have been a major issue. This project will allow us to better control the drainage, including the runoff from building downspouts, through this new system.”
With this project, additional improvements are being made to the electrical primary loop, which includes replacement of 40-year-old-aging conductors that are at ahigh risk of failing. The project has also focused on the installation of a system of accessible sidewalks to connect the residential end of campus to the academic corridor. Improving the campus lighting system to increase safety and security will conclude the major portion of the project.
“At night, it has been challenging for students to traverse across the primary corridors of the college campus,” McLean said. “The upgraded infrastructure will include lighting along the new sidewalks which will allow for greater visibility and security. It is going to be similar to what we have in the middle of campus right now which includes a walkway, lighting and other infrastructure installed in 2012.”
The replacement of the antiquated and challenging infrastructure, including the new walkways and lighting, were cited in the College’s Master Site and Facilities Plan (MSFP), a document approved by the board of governors in 2017.
The MSFP serves as a guide for the College to better ensure that new and existing facilities will include appropriate, safe, and attractive teaching, learning and support services designed to provide the optimum opportunity for student success.
With the added improvements to infrastructure across this end of the Norfolk campus, construction crews are now working to create an environment that will give Northeast students additional opportunities for more connected experiences with the College and each other.
Amanda Nipp, vice president of student services, said with residence halls, apartments, and dining and meeting facilities located on the northern end of campus, the master plan calls for creating a housing zone that will now be recognized as Hawks Village. The sidewalks will also lead to green spaces including recreational fields, basketball courts, and other amenities.
“This area of campus is designed to feel more like home for all students, not just those who live on campus,” she said. “It will feature multiple outdoor spaces that will encourage student interaction and engagement. There will be areas for students to participate in recreational activities, as well as spaces for those who would rather be a spectator. A shade structure with outdoor seating will provide students a place to enjoy a meal outside, meet up with friends to watch an intramural basketball game, or to complete homework on a beautiful day. By naming it Hawks Village, we are creating spaces for students where they can learn, play, and connect with one another.”
A roadway between the residence halls and the Cox Activities Center that created issues for both students and motorists has been removed. This redesigned area will become the new pedestrian entrance into Hawks Village.
Dr. Michael Chipps, Northeast president, said removing vehicle traffic from this area will provide safer and more secure places for students to navigate across campus.
“A major portion of this project has involved resetting the landscape to improve water drainage and electrical systems that no one will see, but are so critical to the long-term benefit of college facilities. Hawks Village allows Northeast Community College to not only improve the infrastructure, but it will positively affect the student-residential side of our operation.”
He said it is part of Northeast’s role in creating a full college experience for its students.
“At Northeast, we are focused on the student’s academic, social and cultural experiences, so that they leave the College as well-rounded citizens and contributors to our service area.”
Conduit lays in front of Path Hall on the Norfolk campus of Northeast Community College that will become part of a new storm water drainage system. It is part of a major infrastructure project in an area of campus that will be known as Hawks Village.