Summer 2012 will prove to be a busy building year for Clark, as the portion of Downing St. that divides the heart of campus will be converted into a walking mall and Johnson and Sanford Halls will be conjoined.
Previous updates to the Clark campus, going back to 2005, have been the building of the Lasry Bioscience Center, a new student residence in Blackstone Hall, the first floor of the library (the Academic Commons), updates to Bullock and Wright Halls, and a new admissions building.
(all indented text is from an e-mail from our president, David Angel)
This work on Downing Street will complement three other public projects that are planned over the next few years. As part of the previously announced agreement with the city and Clark on payments in lieu of taxes, the city of Worcester is now planning major improvements to University Park at Main and Crystal Streets. The city conducted three public planning sessions this past spring with community residents, elected officials, and members of the Clark community to solicit feedback on priorities for the work in the park. The plan approved by the city and the community will focus on improvements to core services and safety in the park. The decayed walkways will be reconstructed and a new seating area along the pond will be erected. The basketball courts and playground spaces will be expanded and improved. A new volleyball court will be constructed along the eastern edge of the park. Electrical power will be installed near the pond facing Main Street. This power will be used for special events such as the Main South Celebrates festival and possible student-sponsored afternoon concerts. For improved safety, the lighting in the park will be increased, and security cameras will be installed throughout the park. Construction is expected to begin this July with completion by summer 2013.
There have been some complaints about this project, but quite frankly I think it's absolutely necessary. Downing St. crests at a major crossing point for students, and can be extremely dangerous to cross. Not only will this look really nice, it's a huge safety improvement.
Plans are now finalized for major improvements to student residential life in Sanford, Johnson, Hughes, and Dana Halls. The successful work in Wright and Bullock Halls has provided a framework for extensive renovations to these residence life facilities. We are planning to add a building connector that houses lounges and other community spaces to Sanford and Johnson during the summer of 2012, with a comparable project for Hughes and Dana during the summer of 2013. The Sanford/Johnson project will also allow for significant improvements to the Fuller Residential Quadrangle area.
Another project is the major streetscape improvements along Main Street between Downing and Beaver Streets. Clark was able to secure a $2 million Federal grant with great support from Congressman James McGovern to improve this important gateway to the neighborhood and Clark. Design plans will be developed over the summer with the expectation that they will include lighting improvements, new landscaping, sidewalk seating and bike racks, and improved pedestrian safety with sidewalks curving out closer together and clearly marked crosswalks. This planned work will be designed to complement the improvements to University Park. It is anticipated that this work will begin in the summer of 2013.I forgot about some of the streetscape and off campus improvements Clark is becoming involved with. I'm sure by the time I visit Clark for my 5th year reunion in 2016, it will be much different from how I sweetly remember the campus. Ugh, now I'm getting all nostalgic. I'm really glad Clark is moving forward with these projects. Not only will it make our campus so much more beautiful, but it will improve the surrounding community as well.
The third project impacting the Downing Street area will be the construction of a new playground at the corner of Downing and Florence Streets. This is an initiative being led by Clark students with $39,000 in funding from Student Council. This project will provide new playground equipment, a safer play surface, and better lighting and fencing to keep the site more secure. Clark students have stepped up to exhibit great leadership and passion for this project. This work will occur this April.
Another major initiative that you should know more about is the work of the Main South Community Development Corporation that continues in the Kilby-Gardner-Hammond area in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club and Clark. The Main South CDC has constructed more than 70 first-time homebuyer opportunities and quality rental units in that area since 2004, with their newest projects now under construction along Hammond Street. The Boys and Girls Club opened their extraordinary $9.2 million facility on Tainter Street in 2006. This tremendous work in this section of the neighborhood has brought increased stability to our community.
As part of this partnership, Clark will be constructing a new $2.75 million athletic field with a track adjacent to the Boys and Girls Club. This field will be used for Clark intercollegiate and intramural athletics and will be shared with the Boys and Girls Club when not used by Clark. Design plans are now underway to construct a retaining wall to provide adequate space for the field and track. It is hoped that the wall will be completed by fall 2012 so that work on the field can be completed by fall 2013.