Campus construction stirs open space concerns

By ZACH FENT/Montana State News-

Much to the concern of students, plans are now being made for the design and construction of a new dining facility on the Montana State University campus.

The building will result in the destruction of green space north of the Chemistry-Biochemistry Building. A vote of 12-1 by the University Facilities Planning Board on Tuesday, Jan. 26, approved the location based on cost efficiency and community safety.

Students are concerned that structural accommodations for the ever-growing student body will lead to future elimination of green space on campus.

“We have such outdoor minded students,” said Justin Jefferson, a senior from the Department of Microbiology, “… almost everybody is out sitting on the grass with friends in between classes, eating lunch outside, throwing a Frisbee or playing with their dog. I really hate to see it go.”

Jefferson is not the only one concerned about the new dining hall plans. While some are upset that the planning committee chose to take up more open area, others are increasingly interested in the efficient use of school property.

Rather than renovating two older dining halls, the planning committee has chosen to build new. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, it was found that starting fresh to create a modern and efficient facility is more cost effective than remodeling the current Harrison and Hannon Halls.

However, Kevin Zolman, a senior in the department of cell biology and neuroscience, said “there will be need for expansion in the future, which is reasonable as our school grows. This expansion can’t take place, though, if we are wasting valuable area on a dining hall and not constructively using the space already allotted for food services.”

Tannur Oakes, president of the Resident Hall Association, said “it is most likely that the old dining halls will be remodeled into office spaces and classrooms once the new dining hall is opened, which we need too.” Having sat in on some of the preliminary discussion meetings, Oakes feels that the repurposing of Hannon and Harrison is vital to the expansion of the school as well.

“Building new gives the school the opportunity to make exactly what they want,” said Oakes, “while thinking about capacity and the energy efficiency that we have become well known for.”

The new dining facility will be 30,000-square-feet, seat up to 700 people, and cost an estimated $15 million, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. It is expected to open fall of 2018.

-Edited by Emily Fowler

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