Here's a story I wrote for today's edition of The Bristol Press (http://www.bristolpress.com/) about the expansion plans at Tunxis. If you've been impressed by the school's new look along Route 6, you'll be interested to know that it'll be extended a little further into Farmington. The view is of the new addition, seen from the east side. On the far right side of the picture is the corner of the building, at the junction of Routes 6 and 177.
FARMINGTON – Tunxis Community College is preparing for the next phase of its expansion, with a newly designed classroom building.
Tunxis President Cathryn Addy said they now know what the building will look like and are in the process of selecting the public art that will be part of it.
“It’s quite a ways down the road,” she said. “I’m really excited about it.”
Addy said the school is at capacity.
“We desperately need the space,” she said. “I’m very grateful that we’re even getting to plan a building right now.”
John Lodovico, the director of facilities at the college, said the 50,000-square-foot addition will extend the newest building – the face of the college – further east along Route 6.“It’s a good-sized building,” said Lodovico.
The project will be ready to go out to bid early this summer, said Lodovico.
“Then, it’s out of our hands,” he said, until the State Bond Commission allocates the money for construction.
Under the best possible scenario, Lodovico said, construction could start in the fall. The project will take 600 calendar days, he said, so in theory, it could be occupied by July 2012.
But he said, “I doubt that’ll happen.”
The new structure, which will be known as the 600 building at Tunxis, will have three stories above the ground. The eastern portion will also have a basement, said Lodovico, offering about 11,000 square feet of space.
The mechanics and custodians will have a work area in the new basement, said Lodovico, and there will also be storage space there.
The first, second and third floors will each have about 13,000 square feet each.
The first expansion phase at Tunxis completed two years ago added a new 33,000-square-foot library, student meeting space, labs, an art gallery and a half dozen classrooms. In all, it was a 100,000-square-foot addition.
“We still fell short of classroom space,” said Lodovico.
The second phase is half the size of the first one and is designed by the same architectural firm, Du Bose Associates in Hartford, in a matching style.
The building will have LEED environmental certification, based on design and materials. They’ll have flooring made of recycled rubber tires, he said, more glass and natural light to reduce electrical use. He said they’re looking at the mechanical system to see what can be done to make it more efficient.
Lodovico said the second phase adds nine 40-seat classrooms, six 30-seat classrooms, two laptop-compatible classrooms that accommodate 24 students each and two 20-seat classrooms for the first and second story.
The third floor will be reserved for future expansion, and probably used as office space at some point, according to Lodovico.
“We will wait until we can afford it,” said Addy.
Tunxis has 4,480 students, Lodovico said, which is 9 percent higher than this time last year.
Even after the first phase of the expansion, said Lodovico, the school was too small. He said he hopes the second phase meets the current needs of the school and said he expects it will, unless enrollment spikes again.
Having enough space for parking remains a big problem, Lodovico said, one that will likely require land acquisition to solve.
Originally, the budget for the second phase was set at about $35 million, according to Lodovico. But it has since been scaled back to $12 million, he said, not enough to do the original project.
The project initially had included the renovation or demolition and replacement of two of the original buildings on campus, an early-1960s-era former strip mall and a former grocery store. But that’s been put off indefinitely, Lodovico said, and the third floor of the new building won’t be finished right away, either, to save money.
It’ll be insulated and heated, he said, and pipes will be brought up there and capped.
If the bids come back low enough, Lodovico said, it’s possible that something could be done soon with the third floor. Otherwise, he said, it’ll be ready for expansion later.
If the economy improves or federal stimulus money is available to the school, Lodovico said, the project could move more quickly and more of it could be finished.
“The need is here and it starts with education,” said Lodovico.
Lodovico said a state traffic study showed the college needs a traffic light on Route 177 at the southern end of the property.
When classes let out, it can be difficult to make a left turn out of the parking lot, Lodovico said.
“It’s a busy place,” Lodovico said. “There’s a lot going on here.”
It’s possible the new traffic light may be a caution light, he said.
“That’s still in design development,” he said.