A whole lot of building going on
What do you get for $4.7 million? In the case of Ohio State Marion, the 2018 capital improvement projects have brought smoother asphalt, new parking lots, a bridge across a creek, improved outdoor lighting, and a total rebuild of Morrill Hall’s third floor.
Coming on the heels of Ohio State Marion’s construction of a new Science and Engineering Building, this year’s projects include major improvements to the campus’s internal roads and parking areas. The circular drive at the north entrance to the campus is now a true round-a-bout where traffic flows in only one direction. Parking areas adjacent to Marion Technical College and Morrill Hall have been re-configured to add additional spaces and handicapped parking. The internal roads were completely excavated and rebuilt, eliminating sections requiring frequent repairs.
“This trail, when complete, will become a major recreational asset for the community,” said Dave Claborn, Ohio State Marion’s director of development and community relations.
A new 150-space parking lot is now complete just south of the new Science and Engineering Building to accommodate Ohio State Marion’s increasing enrollment. Topsoil taken from the lot and other road projects is being used to create a new soccer field.
Most of the projects are funded with State of Ohio capital improvement funds. One of those that isn’t is the newest addition to the campus bicycle/walking trail. Funded by individual donors and contributions from Ohio Health and the Ray and Charlotte Baldauf Foundation, the trail now extends through a wooded area to Woodside Drive on the west and across Grave Creek to the Forum Shopping Center on the east. The new addition connects to a half-mile portion of the trail that parallels University Drive. Three more sections remain to make a complete 2.5 mile loop around the campus.
“This trail, when complete, will become a major recreational asset for the community,” said Dave Claborn, Ohio State Marion’s director of development and community relations. The trail connects to the Marion City bike route which connects to the 12.4 mile Tall Grass Trail that follows a former railroad right-of-way to the Hardin County line. “The trail invites the community to experience our campus,” said Claborn. “Hopefully, that exposure will encourage more students to take advantage of this tremendous educational resource here in Marion.”
Finishing the trail will require approximately $300,000 from additional donors. Contributions can be made online or by contacting Ohio State Marion’s development office at 740-725-6360.
The largest project completed over the summer of 2018 is the re-build of Morrill Hall’s third floor. The entire floor of Ohio State Marion’s first building on Mt. Vernon Avenue was gutted. Laboratories that had occupied the space are now part of the new science/engineering building. In their place, new student gathering spaces, a new classroom, conference room, and media lab now exist. Windows were cut into the 50 year old brick, giving faculty the benefit of natural light in newly remodeled offices. Associate Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Anna Willow moved into one of the new offices on Morrill Hall’s third floor.
“The first several years of my career here was in one of the smaller offices with no windows—and that was something that I really missed a lot—having a window," said Willow. "So, it is very nice! My plants are happy! I can at least see the top half of the trees from here. It is very nice. I think it makes for a happier workplace and probably puts faculty in a much better mood if they can actually have some access to the outdoors through the window. “
Another significant project has been upgrading all of the exterior lighting to LED technology. Four hundred poles and fixtures have been installed. The switch to LED lighting is expected to save the campus $25,000 per year in electric charges or almost one month’s billing per year, according to Ron Turner, facilities and security superintendent.
Summer construction also included addition of a cadaver lab in Bryson Hall for Marion Technical College health-tech students and improvements to training labs in the Health Tech Building.
Planning is already underway for more campus improvements in the next round of state capital funding, expected in 2020. New projects will likely include upgrades to the Alber Student Center including improved student offices and dining space, as well as more sustainability upgrades like solar panels on rooftops.
New dorms? “We’re having those discussions with the appropriate people in Columbus,” said Dean Rose. “Our vision is to grow Ohio State Marion into an even more complete and sustainable ‘opportunity’ campus of Ohio State University,” said the dean.