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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Governor Patrick’s Announcement Sets Construction Plans in Motion

An+artists+rendition+of+the+General+Academic+Building+1.
An artist’s rendition of the General Academic Building 1.

 

 

Governor Deval Patrick’s Oct 2 announcement of a $100 million grant to UMass Boston to build General Academic Building 2 is a fulfillment of a $2.2 billion commitment to higher education. In 2008 the Higher Education Capital Bond bill was passed. This bill allocated $2.2 billion of state money to fund higher education projects. $1 billion of those dollars were set aside for the UMass system itself; the remaining money is to be spent on other state schools and community colleges.

Governor Patrick’s announcement was significant, despite having committed the funds in 2008, because as Communication Director for UMass Boston Dewayne Lehman explained, “The governor has the authority to spend up to $1 billion … on the UMass system, but he does not have to. A master plan is a very loose framework,” Lehman said. “General Academic Building 2 is in the master plan but until we secured the money to fund it was just an idea. Now we have the funds we can actually start moving forward on it.”

The UMass System does not owe any debt on funds allocated through the 2008 bond bill. Governor Patrick explained in a short interview following his announcement that these funds were awarded as community investments. Projects like the building of General Academic Building 2 “…create jobs right now, and also creates a platform for growth in the future,” Patrick said.

Prior to the Governor’s announcement, the university had been unable to move forward with their plans for General Academic Building Number 2. Now that funding will be coming through in about seven months, design work is moving ahead at full speed.

“In starting to work on it we will be talking to Academic Affairs,” said Communications Director of Master Planning Holly Sutherland. “We will be talking about their needs and based on that we will figure out what exactly is going to go in the building. We also need to determine which of the proposed construction sites is the best site for the new building.”

At the same time that General Academic Building 2 enters design phase, actual construction of General Academic Building 1 and roadway relocation are set to begin. General Academic Building 1 will be located where the North Lot is at present. At the end of the fall semester the North lot will be closed and site preparation will begin. The garage beneath the campus center will remain open.

The roadway reconstruction will cause disruptions in daily commutes. Portions of the road will be closed and detours established. However the result of the work will be a two-way road, an expanded sidewalk, bicycle lanes and the installation of facilities capable of handling the increased energy demands of a larger campus.

According to Lehman, communication is key to future expansion plans. “We are about to enter a phase of construction that has much greater potential to disrupt daily routines. To ease this situation we are making communication a top priority,” Lehman said. “It is one thing to be inconvenienced if you expected it, it is another if you are caught unawares. We will be letting people know what to expect on a day to day, week to week basis through the university website and emails.”