This past Wednesday marked the beginning of the municipal Public Comment Period in the approval process of the East Campus Athletic Village Master Plan. During this period, the Environmental Impact Statement for the entire project will be available for public review. This is one of the many steps in the approval process leading up to construction of the project.
According to Barbara Nelson, Project Manager of the East Campus Athletic Village, at the end of this period the EIS will be returned to the Rensselaer team heading up the project for revision, ultimately leading up to the approval of the Master Plan. Simultaneously, the Rensselaer team will be pursuing a building permit to begin construction in June for Phase I of the project, which includes the new basketball courts and the new sports medicine and conditioning center, as well as new locker rooms.
The East Campus Athletic Village is a large project that intends to expand the athletic facilities and opportunities for all students on campus. The entire project includes a new football stadium, natatorium, weight room, tennis courts and upgrades to the Houston Field House in addition to the facilities included in Phase I of the project. Nelson anticipates that Phase I construction will last about two years, with the 2010 Commencement Ceremony occurring on the new football field.
Ken Ralph, director of Athletics, said that the “prevailing sentiment” is that the ’86 Field will remain as an open green space after the bleachers are moved to the new football field. After construction is completed, Nelson anticipates focusing on the ’86 Field, as it is an historic landscape with different paths and access ways for students and vehicles alike.
Coach Joe King of the football team expressed his enthusiasm for the new facilities and sees it as a reward for the success of the past and present student athletes. The new facilities will also serve as an important tool for recruitment, a sentiment also shared by Head Athletic Trainer Anthony Ortolano. In addition, the new facilities will include a unified and better equipped sports medicine and conditioning center. The current training facilities are split between the Houston Field House, the Armory, and the ’87 Gym, creating difficulties for trainers and teams alike.
Speaking about the impact of the current facilities on the training staff, Ortolano stated, “We’ve reached a point where we know that we have to work harder”. He stated that he is both “anxious to see a shovel go into the ground … and to see the reaction of the kids that have the opportunity to use the facilities.”
John Greene, head coach of women’s basketball, expressed his excitement in the new facilities as well. This past weekend the women’s basketball team welcomed back alumni for an alumni game and dinner. The team honored the former All-Time League Assistant Leader Rory Heneler of the Class of ’86, who passed away recently, by naming the new women’s locker room after her. Greene also mentioned his current involvement in scheduling facilities, stating that he is aware of “what great demand we have from intramurals in addition to varsity, and it would be a great venue for other Institute events.”
Ralph expects that the project will benefit athletics programs on campus including varsity athletics, intramurals, and club sports, and also create opportunities for open recreation. He recommended that students look at the East Campus Athletic Village video fly-through, available at http://www.rpiathletics.com/. It provides a view and description of the project and its impact on the campus. Nelson also anticipates that the facilities will be open from 7 am through 11 pm, providing time for different groups to have access to the space.
Nelson is heading up a planning group that coordinates the different aspects of the project, including landscaping, food services, Public Safety, plant operations, and others. In addition, she noted that one of the architects from the Sasaki design team, Eric Lambiaso, is a former Grand Marshal from 1990. Along with the new athletic facilities, there will be a new satellite office for Public Safety. The plans for ECAV also include closing Georgian Terrace to pedestrians only. There will be a focus on utilizing shuttle service during large events rather than including more parking with the new facilities. Nelson also anticipates that there will be an Event Planning Committee that will include members from Troy High School, Troy Police, and RPI that will meet to facilitate the coordination of events.