SPC library to add conference center
A nature park and parking garage could be next. But some neighbors want more of a heads-up.
By ANNE LINDBERG
Published April 3, 2005
SEMINOLE - Construction is slated to start soon on an addition to the St. Petersburg College library that will house a museum and conference center.
Also under consideration are two other projects for the Seminole campus, a parking garage and a nature park. A feasibility study is planned for a dormitory.
The prospect of major construction on the 103-acre site distresses some residents of unincorporated Seminole who abut the college. They worry what the increased traffic and students will do to their neighborhood.
When the college first began developing the site at 9200 113th St. N, officials worked with city representatives and residents of the unincorporated area, said Gabe Escalera, a member of unincorporated Seminole.
"Ever since then, buildings start popping up, plans go into effect," but neighbors who live in the unincorporated area are not consulted, while city officials are given plenty of information, Escalera said. It would be nice, he said, if the college would afford those in the unincorporated area the same consideration that the city of Seminole gets.
"That's not asking too much," Escalera said.
Pinellas County Commissioner Ronnie Duncan agreed that residents in the unincorporated area should be informed of the college's plans and have a chance to comment on them. Duncan said he would call SPC officials and Seminole Mayor Dottie Reeder to see if a joint informational meeting could be scheduled.
As it is, a lot of construction has occurred on the campus, with the library, which is a joint city-college project, and a pharmacy building. A building to house a dental school will be finished around Aug. 15.
Even before that is completed, construction will begin on the library addition, said Susan Reiter, the college's director of facilities planning.
The addition will add a second floor to a portion of the library, which will house administrative offices. The remainder of the addition will include a 300-seat auditorium, enhanced lobby and a catering kitchen to make the center more attractive to folks looking to use the facilities. The working name is the International Business Center, Reiter said.
"When we built this building," said Reiter, referring to the library, "we built it for expansion, both for the college and the city of Seminole."
The college hopes to finish the center about a year after construction begins.
With expansion and an increasing number of students, parking is becoming more and more of an issue, Reiter said. Because much of the campus is covered by protected wetlands, the obvious solution is to go vertical by building a small parking garage.
The goal, Reiter said, is to make the garage look attractive rather than utilitarian.
"There are some very attractive parking garages," she said.
With the advent of the pharmacy and dental buildings and the four-year curriculum, she said, "we are thinking there may be more and more need for student housing."
That is very preliminary, Reiter said. The college is planning a feasibility study and could well decide not to build a dormitory or to build it elsewhere.
[Last modified April 3, 2005, 00:09:18]
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