MainSheet Archives/MainSheet

By: Madison Medeiros

Architects, contractors, schematic designs: plans for a new science and engineer building are well on its way.

Out of $950 million of the Massachusetts state bonds dedicated to higher education, Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) received $25 million.

“It’s a big moment in the college’s history that we have the backing of the state now really with solid, set financial dollars to make an investment in the new building,” said Patrick Stone, Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing.

Governor Charlie Baker signed off on the bill at Westfield State University on July 10 to announce the state’s approval of $3.9 billion to address capital repair needs, more specifically at public colleges and universities.

The state capped the cost of proposals at $20 million from 28 institutions, including four year colleges. Due to the level of competition and the dire need for a new building housing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program, the college requested and received $5 million more.

“This is a direct investment in both future students and the future of the Cape. There is a growing need in the region for STEM,” said Stone. “Along with the growth, is a need for well-trained, well-educated people who know the region and know the work. Where are you going to turn to find those people? You’re going to turn toward 4Cs.”

The existing science building and lecture hall complex supplies students with the baseline needs, according to Stone. Accessibility issues, expensive renovations, and a lack of support for active learning and classrooms were the catalysts for this proposal, which was first constructed in 2005.

The building did not meet the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) space standards for the STEM program. The laboratories and classrooms are not designed for modern students and fail to reflect a real working environment in the STEM field.

“It was the strength of the proposal and meeting the need. It’s a STEM building and we have a growing STEM area on the Cape,” Stone said. “This feeds into what our region needs, what our students need, what the economy’s going to need moving forward.”

The college would have been forced to wait a duration of two years or more until choosing to apply again. Without the state’s investment, 4Cs would experience a generational gap in terms of trained and educated students, according to Stone.

The new building is still in the design phases until June 2019 and will take about 3 ½ years to complete. It will be built around the existing building, over the lecture halls and looping around in the shape of an L.

Although the state is committed to funding the project throughout construction, 4Cs still faces the obstacle of raising an additional $13 million to meet the building’s $38 million needs.

The Board of Trustees and The Educational Foundation are currently engaged in developing fundraising strategies to support the remaining need.

“It’s a heavy lift for the college. It’s not a small amount of money, [but there] will be a large campaign to do it,” Stone said. “The good news about that: obviously we have a great foundation, we have a great Board of Trustees and everyone’s going to be on board and on the same page doing it, as well as the President.”

Stone accredits the faculty, staff and primarily, Vice President of Finance and Operations Lisa Kopecky for being instrumental throughout the process of the project. Kopecky helped organize the winning proposal before resubmission.

“Consistently in my time here, the faculty and staff that reside in that building especially have been very much driven and have really put a lot of time and effort in when we were reviewing this project,” President John Cox said. “Many hours spent at the table with architects and engineers, looking at ‘how can we build this out?’”

Cox and his crew are determined to build a sustainable structure that can withstand the hands of time for the next 50 years.

“We were designed in the 60s and I think the priorities were a little different then,” said Cox.

As for future projects, Cox said the college has plans to increase easy accessibility around campus. In addition to the $25 million, 4Cs was also given $2.1 million toward Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.

The college is currently working with architects for renovation of the current ramps, with a goal of removing some stairs and making gentler slopes.

4Cs is also utilizing funds for deferred maintenance, including upgrading facilities such as the bathrooms.

A crew of 17 maintenance and specialty trade workers work diligently to cover the college’s needs.

During the summer the staff upgraded the furniture and worked hard to improve the Grossman Commons.  Refreshing the paint, adding charging stations for electronics, and even standardizing the size of flags that hang from the ceiling and organizing them neatly were on the completed list of duties.

“I think we have a really dedicated maintenance crew that has really been out there hopping over the summer. It’s a lot of work trying to refresh for the fall,” Cox said. “But, there is much to come.”