A scaled-down master plan for Sampson Community College outlines close to $7 million in new construction and building renovations, new signs, a revamped plaza and a sports complex — deemed a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to put SCC in a prime position for future success.
The “re-prioritized” plan, presented by John Farkas of JKF Architecture on Tuesday, details close to $10 million in campus needs, giving priority to two-thirds of the original draft.
A $2 billion ConnectNC Public Improvement Bond, approved in the March election, included nearly $4.8 million for new construction, repairs and renovations at SCC. Those funds are factored in the plan along with roughly $2 million more in anticipated county and SCC Foundation allocations, along with N.C. Department of Transportation funds — for a total of about $6.8 million.
The college’s five-year master plan (2016-21) includes the elimination of the east parking lot; a campus-wide wayfinding system starting at the campus entrance; landscape and entry marquees at each entrance as well as at the corner of N.C. 24 and Airport Road; relocation of visitor’s parking; and a redesign of the plaza area at the center of campus.
Of the building priorities, a new welding and metal fabrication building ($2.07 million); additions to the Activities Building and Kitchin Building ($2.87 million); modernizing science labs; and ADA improvements campuswide ($490,000) are all listed as priorities.
The proposed addition at the Activities Building, which has previously been the site of extensive renovations, may include up to 10,500 gross square feet of new space that would help accommodate programs such as Basic Law Enforcement Training. The project at Kitchin includes the addition of an elevator tower for accessibility, as well as the expansion of the first floor toilets for accessibility.
Campus-wide site improvements include plaza alterations ($498,000); N.C. 24 improvements such as entry signs, landscape ($192,000); campus wayfinding system ($99,000); campus lighting ($167,000); and an athletic field, concessions and Airport Road realignment ($403,000).
“Last time we were around $9.9 million and that was the full list of everything,” Farkas said. “What we’ve done is re-prioritized and figured how much of that we can fit into the $6.7 million that we have. That allowed us to hit pretty much everything on the list, except for a couple big items.”
Renovations at the Warren Building and North Building, totaling $3.1 million all together, were kept in the master plan but not anticipated to be funded.
Renovations to the Warren building would be focused on creating more up-to-date facilities for dining and recreation, handicap accessibility, bookstore improvements and general upgrades. The original building on campus, the North Building requires fairly significant renovations and upgrades.
“You still have that in your master plan should any funds become available in the next five years or so,” Farkas remarked. “As far as a master plan, it’s pretty good when you can take care of two-third of your needs on campus just from the $6.7 million you’re getting now.”
There was no action taken on the plan, which will be considered for approval in the near future.
“This is purely for information,” SCC trustees chairman Michael Chestnutt said. “I think we’ll have to take a deeper dive later on. There is still some pencil sharpening and things we have to do to make this happen.”
SCC president Dr. Paul Hutchins said “all aspects of student life” were examined in coming to the priority needs list.
“We tried to decide what would be most important for us moving forward as an institution to provide the best quality student experience,” Hutchins said, noting the inclusion of a sports complex.
“We have no facility here on campus that allows us the opportunity to do any intramural programs whatsoever,” Hutchins noted. “We have not been in intercollegiate athletics for years and years. That intramural component I think would add a lot to what we’re able offer student life. Those are things that help make the institution attractive.”
Hutchins said college officials would also be in contact with the City of Clinton and Sampson County toward realizing that goal and possibly reducing cost.
Blair Hairr, dean of Student Services, said she can offer all the positives of SCC when talking to a prospective students, but there is always a major caveat — no intramural sports.
“We currently don’t have a student activity, other than the gym,” Hairr said. “It’s exciting to take a tour and see a basketball court or intramural sports. Those are the things they hear about and they want to be involved in — that is part of the marketing tool. If we had those opportunities for intramural sports, that would definitely help.”
“You want to be able to offer the whole package,” Chestnutt added.
Dollars and cents
Dr. Bill Starling, vice president of academics and administration at SCC, took trustees through the financial aspect of the $6.78 million
“This is a work in progress,” said Starling.
College officials anticipate receiving $250,000 in capital outlay money from the county this year to go along with the $260,000 received from DOT for the campus property taken as part of right-of-way acquisition for the N.C. 24 project. Discussions with the SCC Foundation will be held to possibly fund capital needs, including $50,000 this year.
“If all this comes together by the end of this year, you would have $560,000,” said Starling.
In the second year, the $4.8 million in ConnectNC bond money would be available and the understanding is another $250,000 in county money would be allocated and an additional $75,000 would be requested from the Foundation, Starling noted. In the third year, $250,000 from the county and an again-increased Foundation allocation of $100,000 would add to the amount available.
“Through the five years, if everything goes the way we hope it does, we would have somewhere around $6.7 or $6.8 million,” Starling pointed out. ‘This is a five-year continuum. There is a lot that can happen over five years.”
Starling said there is enough money coming from the bond, the DOT and the county to ensure that the welding building and the Activities Center projects are completed, as well as addressing the entryway and ADA issues.
“Even though John gave you a scaled-back version of the five-year plan, it may be a reality that you even do somewhat less,” said Starling. “The minute a roof goes out, some of this is going away.”
“This is a document that guides the institution forward,” Hutchins added. “It’s a list of priorities we hope to put in place to enhance this college and put it in a more competitive place to attract and serve students. We hope to be able to do most of it, but we might not. But if you don’t have a master plan, you don’t have that road map to follow to get where you want to be.”
Hutchins said he and Starling have had preliminary talks with SCC Foundation director Lisa Turlington about support the college is hoping to receive.
In-depth talks cannot happen without the Board of Trustees’ support, the president noted, requesting a “tacit approval” from the board to move in that direction. Trustees subsequently gave their blessing.
Chestnutt said he has heard some push-back in the community that the foundation funds scholarships, not capital needs. There is no intention for the college’s request to replace scholarship money, the chairman noted.
“The intent is to use the structure in place to do additional fundraising,” Chestnutt offered, saying $2 million was going to have to be raised somewhere. “Maybe the foundation can help facilitate in bringing in money that would not otherwise be coming in.”
Trustee Chuck Spell agreed that there were rumblings about the college “taking the foundation’s money.” He said some further dialogue would assist in clarifying the master plan and what is being requested.
“You’ve got a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make some of this happen. If it doesn’t happen under this window, it’s probably not going to happen,” Chestnutt remarked. “When you have momentum, you have to sustain that.”
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