Amarillo voters approved an $89 million bond referendum in the May 4, 2019 election. Amarillo College has put the money to use in a variety of construction projects and initiatives across campuses.
By JO EARLY and KAMDEN SLOUGH
Online Editor/Design Editor
Amarillo College students have noticed the results of the ongoing construction across AC campuses, which progressed over the summer despite supply delays.
“The common area between Ware and the cafe looks awesome,” Charlie Glear, an English major, said. “Definitely a more welcoming vibe.”
“Well, the Carter Fitness Center we pushed hard to get finished before the first volleyball games, and we’re not going to make that,” Smith said. “We still are having some long delays on parts. The electric power distribution panel was not scheduled to be shipped until Aug. 9.”
Some of the parking lots on the Washington Street Campus will remain fully or partially closed during the fall semester, however, by the end of the project there will be an additional exit option onto 24th street off Parking Lot 10 and Parking Lot 9, near Parcells Hall, will also be reconfigured.
“In addition to that, down the road when we finish that project, we’re putting in a couple of extra parking lots,” Smith said. “We’ve made agreements with the park to add— I call them dog ears because they’re just out on the sides – but we’re going to add spots out there.”
Smith said keeping the buildings cool during the summer was a priority. “We were able to get chilled water to the music and art center over there that it did not have before,” he said. “That work is tied to the existing chilled water loop and getting and keeping the buildings cool through summer.”
Money was allocated to the purchase and renovation of the former J.C. Penney building in Sunset Center which will host classes for first responders. The scope of some projects has also expanded beyond the initial budget.
Additional funds were needed for the renovation of the Carter Fitness Center, Smith said. “The Master Plan budget basically had to clean up the locker rooms in the restrooms, because of the showers, all the drains didn’t flow well. We’ve gone in and completely renovated that building and added 23 feet to the south, so it’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility when we’re through.”
As projects progress and new needs arise, the budget must shift and expand, but the money will be there when needed according to Chris Sharp, vice president of business affairs. “Out of the $89 million of bonds issued, we’ve spent about $40 million on 18 projects,” Sharp said. “Phases II and III will have 15 additional projects. We’ll use bond money and money raised from the Capital Campaign to pay for them.”
The Innovation Outpost remodel has been completed and is ready to host upcoming artificial intelligence and robotics programs. Restrooms on the Washington Street Campus have also been renovated, although some permanent doors have not yet been shipped. Projects awaiting completion include bringing tutoring centers together and renovating the library in the Ware Student Commons.
Glear approves the goals of the project and looks forward to its completion. “From what I understand they’re doing what they can to not only make the campus more welcoming, but opening things up more so that they can help even more students get a higher education,” they said.