YSU to borrow $24.5M for campus improvement

By Harold Gwin

A plan to raze the Lincoln Avenue parking deck drew criticism from one trustee.

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State University will borrow an additional $24.5 million to continue its ongoing campus- improvement program.

The YSU board of trustees voted Wednesday to approve the bond issue, targeting Kilcawley Center, the WATTS indoor athletic facility, parking issues and more.

The university borrowed $21 million earlier this year, primarily to help finance the construction of a new home for the Williamson College of Business Administration that will open in fall 2010. There were also sufficient funds available to earmark $4 million for renovation of the Wick Pollock Inn.

The new bond issue will finance a $10 million upgrade of Kilcawley, the university’s student center, and put up $7 million toward the $10 million WATTS (Watson and Tressel Training Site) Center to be built on the northern side of campus.

Funding for WATTS was to come 50 percent from the bond issue and 50 percent from private gifts, but the philanthropic effort has netted only $3 million so far.

The bond issue will be tapped for $7 million with $2 million of that to be reimbursed when the rest of the private funding is secured.

A total of $2.1 million of the new bonds was earmarked for new intramural-sports fields and facilities proposed on university-owned property on the west side of Fifth Avenue near Stambaugh Stadium.

The bond issue sets aside $400,000 to renovate the old Williamson College of Business Administration building and $500,000 for programming for the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The only part of the bond issue to generate debate is $4.5 million earmarked for parking changes on campus.

The YSU administration wants to tear down the 1,275-space Lincoln Avenue parking deck at the end of the 2010-11 school year and replace it with 1,376 surface- parking spaces on scattered sites, most of them on YSU property.

The university would have to make $150,000 in temporary repairs to the deck for 2010-11.

That plan has drawn criticism from Trustee Harry Meshel, who said he favors using $5 million to refurbish the deck to get 10 to 15 years more out of it.

The deck was built in the early 1970s.

“You have parking lots all over creation,” Meshel said of the administration’s plan. Some are as far from central campus as Belmont Avenue, he added.

Scott Schulick, board chairman, said he’s not sure spending money to keep the deck open for an additional 10 to 15 years is a good investment. He indicated he favors the administration’s plan.

Trustees Carole Weimer, John Jakubek and John Pogue also said they think the deck is at the end of its useful life.

Student Trustees Daniel DeMaiolo and Lyndsie Hall suggested they would like more time for discussion on the fate of the deck before making a decision.

As it stands now, the administration’s plan is proceeding.

Administrators have said the deck property could be put to better use as academic space, perhaps as a new location for the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.


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