Margaret Brent Relocation Confirmed for Mid-September Date

In September, former Business Affairs office location Margaret Brent Hall will be moved on trucks across Route 5.

Announced in the Fall 2010 Planning and Facilities Newsletter, Margaret Brent Hall, the former home of the Business Affairs office before its exodus to Glendening Hall in Spring 2009, will be lifted from its former foundation near Anne Arundel Hall and placed in a designated area in what was once part of the Campus Center parking lot near the Aldom Lounge. In a speech to Waring Commons residents Aug. 29, College President Joe Urgo confirmed the relocation time of 2 a.m. on Sept. 12, the same date scheduled for the move before Hurricane Irene passed over St. Mary’s.

“I’m excited to see the move,” said Urgo. “I’m making sure to take a nap beforehand so I can stay up late for it.”

While the building is being moved late in the night to avoid as much traffic on Route 5 as possible, extra steps are being taken to prepare Margaret Brent for crossing the road. Before the night of Sept. 12, the entire building will be placed on the large transportation trucks so that the physical move can begin on time. Once set on its new foundation, the building will be inspected for stress fractures or other damages incurred during the move.

After the move takes place, Margaret Brent will undergo facilities design and renovation in preparation for its intended use as an academic building. In a presentation to Residence Life staff before the start of the semester, Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray discussed potential repair of the building after the move as well as plans for wiring and sewage.
“The trench you see now is where we’re running a sewer line,” said Mowbray. “We’re also making room for a new ramp and sidewalk,” which reflect the building’s new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines approval. The ADA accessible walkway will run from the Campus Center parking lot to the north side of the Campus Center.
The interior of the building will also be modified, to include 12 offices, a lobby, a kitchenette and mail room, a 30-seat classroom, and a seminar room, according to the Office of Planning and Facilities webpage.

On September 9, a gravel parking lot will be placed near the current Campus Center parking lot in light of Margaret Brent’s new location. The current parking lot outside of the Campus Center will be expanded in the summer and fall of 2013 to make up for the loss of existing parking lots on the historic campus, due to the construction of Anne Arundel Hall. Upon completion the new lots will also be used by the Historic St. Mary’s Visitor Center to allow for additional parking which is now accommodated in a lot outside of Anne Arundel. Parking lots immediately surrounding Anne Arundel will be transformed into staging areas in June 2013 for construction vehicles during the demolition and construction process. The total expected cost of the project is $36,374,000.

The Margaret Brent relocation marks the completion of another of the College’s Capital Projects, which include the Anne Arundel Hall Replacement Project, the Route 5 Traffic Calming Project, and the Historic St. Mary’s City Woodshop and Storage Building Projects. Margaret Brent is expected to be the new location for the Philosophy and Religious Studies departments.

New Dock Contributes to Sustainable Future of SMC Waterfront

Construciton on the exsisting dock (Photo by Jenny Metz)
Construciton on the exsisting dock (Photo by Jenny Metz)

The new $750,000 dock being built down on the waterfront will do more than provide extra space for dinghies, safety boats and sunbathers; its main utility will be breaking the waves that are slowly eroding the shoreline of the St. Mary’s River.

A sandy beach has already replaced the unsightly sandbags that made it seem as though the College is bracing for a flash flood. After fifteen years of deliberation and red tape, a practical solution that integrates both the human need for more dock space, and the environmental need for maintaining a near-natural habitat has been put into action and is nearing completion.

Designed as part of the College sustainability effort, and scheduled for completion at the end of September, the dock will help reclaim land lost due to erosion, which has eaten up nearly 35 feet of shoreline over the past 15 years.  Dubbed the “mini-me” of the older dock by Adam Werblow, head coach of the sailing team, it is about 60 percent smaller than its larger, older neighbor, but serves much the same purpose: saving the waterfront.

Werblow said that looking at the Waterfront,  “you can see how the beach has built up behind the old dock, and then you move over to the right and there’s virtually nothing.  This new dock will change that.” He  added later that “99 percent of this project is aimed towards three things: saving the waterfront, safety, and recreation.”

The dock’s construction involves a pier structure equipped with vertical battens, or wave screens, which extend about eight feet below the dock and break the waves down before they can reach the shore.  “This works better than say, building a rock wall, bulkhead, or marsh plantings, and gives the added convenience of having a place for the crew team to launch their boat instead of wading out into the water,” said Chip Jackson, Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities.

A boat ramp made of stone and concrete extends out on the left side of the dock, providing easy access in and out of the water for all kinds of boats.  Floating platforms will secure 18 recreational sailboats in all by the end of next week, as well as provide a launch for the crew team.

The dock itself is only one phase of what has been dubbed “The Living Shoreline,” a project that includes planting grasses and other vegetation along the shore by Route 5.  These grasses, coupled with rocks that extend into the water, will “help filter the oil and other pollutants that runoff from the street,” said Werblow.  Those who feel like exploring this shoreline-under-construction will come across a new beach in front of the boat house, another practical result from the dock.

The construction effort has had its problems, though.  The remaining decking needed for the last half of the dock cannot be put in because the budget came up $30,000 short.  However, because the building permit does last for another three years, the College has time to raise those funds.

In addition to building the new dock, the construction crew is also replacing half of the old dock.  The first dock, built in the 50s, was “T” shaped and ran straight out into the water.  The college eventually added on to it in the 70s, giving it the “L” shape we see today. The older part was “on its way out” according to Werblow, and in desperate need of repair.  Future repairs to the old dock will include new decking on the latter half of the “L.”

While the dock is both functional for recreational purposes, The Living Shoreline plan will lead to greater environmental health.  “We needed to find a solution that would preserve the shoreline in a sustainable way while at the same time providing safe and easy access to the water,” said Jackson. “The unique combination of wave screen, crew launching platform, selective areas of marsh creation and limited amounts of rock will ensure that the shoreline is well protected while allowing providing an excellent recreational area.”

Capital Design Advisory Prepares Community for Anne Arundel Replacement

The site proposal will highlight the Historic City’s Middle Street, which lies beneath old Anne Arundel.
The site proposal will highlight the Historic City’s Middle Street, which lies beneath old Anne Arundel.

The Capital Design Advisory (CDA) Committee held an open house on Aug. 13th and a public meeting on Aug. 19th, to discuss the replacement of Anne Arundel Hall and the new Maryland Heritage Interpretive Center.

The meetings are intended to inform the community of the relationship between the College and Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) and how the prospective site plans will better serve the needs of both institutions. Additionally, the presentations describe how the site plans will foster joint educational programs and promote additional interaction as envisioned by the 1997 State legislation that formally affiliated the College and HSMC. “The buildings are a physical representation of the affiliation,” said Dr. Michael J. G. Cain, Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy.

According to the current site plan, the Anne Arundel replacement will house archaeological curation facilities for Historic St. Mary’s City and space for the Anthropology Department, International Languages and Cultures Department, the Museum Studies Program, the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Blackistone Room.
HSMC’s new interpretive center will replace the visitor’s center that is currently located off Rosecroft Road. It will include a theatre, permanent exhibit gallery and temporary exhibit space.
The new construction is intended to alleviate major challenges facing both HSMC and the College. Renewal of accreditation at HSMC is contingent upon construction of new facilities that meet the standards for archaeology and museum curation. In addition, storage is becoming a problem with an archive of five million artifacts.

The construction will also offer space to accommodate the College’s growing academic needs. The Museum Studies program already includes twenty-four students and is expected to grow with the newly established Martin E. Sullivan Scholars program. “Bringing together museum functions and academic functions will provide our students with experiences in and outside the classroom on a much more regular basis than is now the case,” said Anthropology Chair Julie King.

A major discussion that took place at the Aug. 19 meeting included the pros and cons of tearing down Anne Arundel Hall, built in 1950, versus renovating it. According to Chip Jackson, Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities, the College had preferred keeping Anne Arundel from a historical and a sustainability standpoint. However, two studies concluded that 85-90 percent of the materials would need replacing and the building would not be energy efficient.

According to Faden, the feedback has been mostly positive. “Once they had an opportunity to learn about the careful planning for the siting of the project and the attention taken to protect the cultural resources, most members of the community favored the plan,” she said.

However, a few community members expressed dissatisfaction with the process. According to Jackson, they felt that periodic public meetings were not sufficient and that the public should be allowed input at every level of the decision making process. However, Jackson felt that was “unrealistic.”

The Committee will continue to work on the proposal with the campus community and is currently coordinating with the SGA and Faculty Senate on how to get as many people involved in the process. “Student engagement is very important to us, and we welcome students’ interest as we go through this planning process,” Jackson said.

St. Mary’s Working in Tandem with HSMC

Margaret Brent Hall will soon be torn down and replaced by the new Interpretive Center. (Photo by Rowan Copley)
Margaret Brent Hall will soon be torn down and replaced by the new Interpretive Center. (Photo by Rowan Copley)

The mass exodus of administrative offices from Anne Arundel Hall and Margaret Brent Hall to Glendening Hall is only one part of a much larger restructuring of South Campus, which promises to connect the college with Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) in beneficial new ways.

Glendening Hall, the new home of such administrative offices as Residence Life and International Education, was completed in late fall of last year to reduce the “run-around” necessary to do such things as change housing and add and drop classes, according to Assistant Vice President of Planning and Facilities Chip Jackson. Such administrative offices as Residence Life, Academic Services, International Education, and Financial Aid were moved to Glendening over winter break.

This move, however, left a large part of Anne Arundel Hall, and all of Margaret Brent hall, unused. According to Torre Meringolo, Vice President of the Office of Development, this is just one part of the college’s restructuring plans that go back to 1997 when former Governor Paris Glendening and former Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend decided to affiliate the college and HSMC through state law. In fact, this connection between the college and HSMC goes back much farther, all the way back to the College’s creation as a monument to Maryland’s first capital. Meringolo said this partnership, “Ties back to the reason the institution is even here.”

In order to further foster this relationship, the college and HSMC decided that both organizations could benefit from bringing some HSMC staff and research on-campus, and decided that South campus would be the best place to do this. In order to make this happen, however, the college needed to make room in South campus and rearrange academic departments currently in Anne Arundel and elsewhere.

Glendening and Goodpaster Hall are, in part, a result of this need. According to Jackson, these two buildings are just a part of the much larger plan. Jackson said that in the next few years students will see this restructuring plan further played out through the movement of the Religious Studies and Philosophy departments to Cobb House and the renovation or replacement of Anne Arundel. According to Meringolo, replacement is more likely because it’s more cost-effective.

Regardless of what path the college takes with Anne Arundel, the new Anne Arundel will house both archeologists and interpreters from Historic as well as the college’s Archeology, History, and Language departments. Margaret Brent Hall will also be replaced with a new Interpretive center for HSMC. According to Regina Faden, Executive Director of the HSMC commission, the interpretive center will act as the new starting point for tourists to HSMC, give them an overview and brief history of HSMC’s sights, and display rotating exhibits. Faden said that the interpretive center, “Will help to create a sense of arrival [to the city].” She added, “Right now, people aren’t always sure where the city is.”

According to Meringolo, this move and restructuring will greatly benefit students, especially Archeology, History, and Museum Studies majors. Members of the HSMC commission already teach some classes on Museum Studies, but even more opportunities will open up after the move. Students will get the chance to work along with researchers from HSMC on unlocking the secrets of colonial St. Mary’s City and learn about its history as it’s being discovered. Internship and job opportunities will also open up for those especially passionate in the study of HSMC, and students will be able to work with members of the commission on such projects as constructing the “ghost frames” that currently dot Route 5 and interpreting newly-discovered artifacts. The HSMC commission will also greatly benefit from the move, since they will get more space for their growing artifact collection.

Although on their way, many students will be unable to see the full results of these changes in their time at St. Mary’s. According to Jackson, design of the new Anne Arundel will take place this spring and the building itself won’t be completed until 2012 or 2013. Faden said the HSMC will not move into Anne Arundel and the Interpretive Center until around 2014.

Those in the administration don’t seem too bothered by the wait, and believe that the move will greatly enhance the college in the end. Meringolo’s vision is that “In 100 years St. Mary’s college [will be] recognized as being the pre-eminent undergraduate program in Anthropology in the country, or one of the great Museum studies programs in the country.”

Students and Faculty React to Glendening Hall Move

The centrally located Glendening Hall is the new home of various student services at the College. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)
The centrally located Glendening Hall is the new home of various student services at the College. (Photo by Brendan O’Hara)

The newest building on campus, Glendening Hall, is the place to go for many of the services offered by the College.

The building is located between the Athletic and Recreation Center and Caroline Hall. It houses many student services, including Residence Life, Academic Services, International Education, First Year Services, the Career Development Center, the Financial Aid office, the Registrar’s office, Human Resources, the Business Office, and Academic Affairs. Construction on Glendening Hall was completed over the 2008-2009 winter break, and student services moved there in mid-January.

Students can now go to one building to add or drop a class, pay bills, find a job, or learn how to study in another country. “Being in the center of the resident population…allows us to better serve face-to-face. The location is a huge benefit,” said Marc Hume, Assistant Director for Residence Life.

Chris Rodkey, a junior, said that Glendening Hall is “convenient” and that it was nice to have a central location for many of the offices that students need.

Employees in the various offices all commented on the extreme convenience of Glendening. Christopher True, the Assistant Vice President for Finance, said that with all the offices in one building it is much “easier to cooperate.”

Tim Wolfe, Director of Financial Aid, said, “[The move] is a wonderful change for us and the students; the staff seems to be much happier.”

For some, however, the move isn’t complete. Assistant Registrar Susan Morse, for example, said that her office still requires some work for it to return to its old form.

For any student that wishes to voice an opinion, Integrated Student Service Administrator Nick Tulley said that surveys will be available in the lobby within the next month.

Construction Plans Meet with Resistance from Community and Students at CDA Meeting

College President Jane Margaret O’Brien spoke at the latest CDA meeting on Thursday, Nov. 13. The meeting was also attended by College representatives, students and community members. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)
College President Jane Margaret O’Brien spoke at the latest CDA meeting on Thursday, Nov. 13. The meeting was also attended by College representatives, students and community members. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)

On Thursday, Nov. 13th the Capital Design Advisory Committee (CDA) met to review upcoming design projects for St. Mary’s College. These projects include the Shoreline Protection Project, and status reports on Anne Arundel Hall, the Interpretive Center and the footbridge. While the meeting was informative, students and local community members of the Citizens for the Preservation of Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) felt their suggestions for alternative construction plans were not taken into consideration.

Dan Branigan, Director of Design and Construction for the CDA, introduced the Shoreline Protection Project, including Phase I and Phase II projects. The main goal of the project is to prevent erosion by constructing “living shorelines” along the River Center shoreline (Phase I) and the Route 5 shoreline (Phase II). These additions to the already present “living shoreline” along Route 5 will prevent erosion through the addition of rocks and native plant species. This project will effectively “enhance the environment while also meeting recreational needs,” said Branigan.

According to the CDA website, the cost for Phase I will be in the range of $600,000 to $775,000 and Phase II is estimated to cost $200,000 to $400,000. Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2009 for Phase I, and Phase II has not yet been scheduled.

Vice President of Business and Finance Tom Botzman takes questions on upcoming construction projects at the college. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)
Vice President of Business and Finance Tom Botzman takes questions on upcoming construction projects at the college. (Photo by Brendan Larrabee)

Phase I of the Shoreline Protection Project also includes a new breakwater pier built to the right of the existing pier at the River Center. Wave screens attached underwater to the pier will lessen the wave energy and overall eroding effect waves have on the shoreline. Additions to the pier, including a boating ramp for students, will create recreational use plus the environmental benefits the pier provides.  Branigan also assured the attendees that the new pier would not obstruct motorists’ view of the river.
Controversy arose when College co-chair of the CDA, Chip Jackson, revealed the plan to demolish Anne Arundel Hall. The replacement building is designed to house archeological artifacts and will be built alongside another construction project, an Interpretive Center, or visitor center.

Sophomore Aaron French suggested the school should retrofit Anne Arundel Hall to minimize carbon emissions rather than constructing a new building. “Additional buildings provide a greater carbon footprint, and we should be trying to stay carbon neutral,” said French.

The new building and the Interpretive Center will be “Green Buildings,” to compensate for the energy used during construction, said Jackson. “Green Buildings” already on campus include Goodpaster Hall, Glendening Hall, and the River Center, resource-efficient buildings that promote environmental sustainability. “Our goal is to minimize the environmental impact of these projects,” said Jackson.

The plan to build a footbridge over Route 5 was also opposed by students and the community. The footbridge would be an elevated replacement for the crosswalk joining West Campus to the Campus Center pathway and is projected to cost $1.49 million. Students and community members against the footbridge pleaded for alternatives.
“What about digging a tunnel instead of another proposed eyesore?” said HSMC member Don Beck. “A tunnel would be much more costly,” stated Jackson.

Inexpensive alternatives proposed included better lighting at the crosswalk, traffic calming and crossing guards for the area, but these were not met with enthusiasm by the CDA members.

Senior Joanna Gibson captured the feeling of upset audience members. “The College is building much more than it needs to…growth for growth’s sake is unwise.”
William Clements, Commuter Senator, added that students who commute to school do not support the footbridge construction.

A conceptual design of the footbridge is scheduled to be ready by the next CDA meeting in February 2009. Community members were exasperated by the lack of information provided about the footbridge construction project at this meeting. “You have said we are going to talk about it in February,” said community member Tom Maday. “By then plans will have already been made.”

“The design process can shape and assess what the effects of construction will be,” said Jackson. “It is not to ignore comments but to assess the issues in a more thorough way.”

Audience members like HSMC member Brian Siebert still remain unconvinced and feel the decision is made. “This meeting was all tell. I don’t get the spirit that you want our input.”