College plans to raze Holcomb for new stadium, reacquire Doty

GENESEO, N.Y. - College administration officials have revealed that Geneseo's top two priorities in the next five to 10 years are to reacquire the Doty building on the south side of campus, and to build a new synthetic-turf sports stadium on the site of the Holcomb Campus School.

Director of Facilities Planning and Construction Jeff Kaplan said that these two projects are "definitely in the planning stages," and at best will be completed in four years.

Doty, described by President Christopher Dahl as a "handsome old structure," lies across Park Street from the College Circle. It once belonged to the College, and is currently occupied by the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD). According to its Web site, OMRDD functions as an "organization which promotes independence, inclusion, individuality and productivity for persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities, and to improve the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of services for persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities by serving persons in the community as well as those in developmental centers."

The College and OMRDD have found a mutual benefit in the reacquisition of Doty. The College will repair the building and its property, and the OMDD will occupy the lower floor of the building. As for the rest of the building, a site plan indicates that the property will be redeveloped for increased parking and to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as to repair substandard plumbing and electrical problems.

Proposed objectives for the building include relocating the Department of Admissions from their current offices in Erwin Hall. Currently, tour groups must be led to the Hunt Room in the College Union at the bottom of the hill for talks about the College. With Admissions located in Doty, tour groups would have a new location to act as the gateway to the College. An informational kiosk is likely to be placed on reconfigured roadways leading into the campus between Doty and Welles.

In addition to Admissions, the Center for International Students, the Hearing and Speech Clinic, and the department of communicative disorders and science will move to Doty's renovated space. Doty also features a large auditorium that can be fitted to accommodate performances which the theaters in Brodie and Wadsworth Auditorium aren't sufficient. The School of the Arts will make use of this as a recital hall, and also locate their support facilities on location.

Kaplan called the plan "a perfect example of interagency cooperation." According to Dahl, working together, the College and OMRDD merge two projects for the state into one project that benefits all parties involved and would be a more efficient use of state funds. Dahl stated, "This would fulfill valid needs for the College, as well as reflect the College's philosophy of partnership and inclusion," he called the project "an innovative way to cooperatively use the site."

Junior Allison Lane feels that the Doty project would benefit students new to the campus. "It makes sense to put Admissions there, because it's the first thing people see when they get here," Lane said, pointing out that it would be easier for visitors to find the Admissions Office. "I remember that my family and I got a little lost trying to find Erwin when we first came here."

The second priority is the construction of a new sports stadium at the bottom of the hill. Currently, Holcomb Campus School occupies the property across from the Merritt Athletic Center. Holcomb is occupied by a variety of institutions, including a day-care center. The College is looking into possible sites to relocate these institutions to before moving forward with the plans for the expansion.

According to Kaplan, in 2004 an Athletic Master Plan was completed that looked at all sports and recreation needs on campus. Some of the issues focused on were the condition of locker rooms, training rooms, fields and the workout center. Also, the College's graduation ceremonies are currently held in the B lot behind Saratoga Terrace. Kaplan said that the annual setting up of this event is costly, and by building a more permanent location for the ceremonies the College could reduce costs.

To do this, Holcomb Campus School would have to be demolished, and a small stadium would be built on the site. Dahl expressed interest in this project, stating that "Geneseo needs better sports facilities to compete with other schools in the state."

The two projects are currently unfunded. According to Kaplan, the project cost for Doty is expected to be roughly $12.5 million. The sports stadium is not included in that figure. Dahl stated that for the stadium, the College is hoping that alumni donations will provide capital to "get things moving" in order to encourage the state to provide funding.

Despite such positive outlooks for the stadium, some students disagreed with its importance. Senior Kevin Leisten stated, "I agree that the athletic facilities are in need of improvement, but I don't feel as though demolishing the primary school and building a completely new complex is the solution." Leisten feels that money would be better spent renovating and improving the existing locker rooms and training facilities, and simply taking better care of facilities the school already has.

Despite being unfunded, the projects remain the College's top two priorities until completion.