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Major upgrades in works at SUNY

This is an artist’s conception of a proposed new track at SUNY Fredonia. Ring Road is on the left and Brigham Road is on the right.

State University of New York at Fredonia plans massive renovations to Jewett Hall and the track and field area — and is taking another look at the Fenner House.

Markus Kessler, the university’s director of facilities planning, updated the SUNY Fredonia College Council last month about the campus’ construction plans.

He started with a project that is already underway but has faced lengthy delays: the Maytum Plaza renovation. The original contractor, Savarino Construction, went bankrupt and the project has languished.

Kessler said Loewke Brill of Rochester will take over the job, and anticipates finishing it in September.

The university has a $226 million capital budget through 2028 and Kessler ticked off a wide range of proposals, some further along than others.

He showed an ambitious plan, proposed cost of $45-$50 million, to revamp Jewett Hall. That project is supposed to go out to bid in December.

SUNY Fredonia also wants to completely revamp its track and field area on Ring Road near Brigham Road, a popular spot for local walkers.

“Track and field has been in bad shape for many many years,” Kessler said. “It has been my understanding we have lost a lot of potential athletes because of the damage.”

The university wants to resurface the track, build a soccer and lacrosse field inside the track, add a 500-seat bleacher section with restrooms and a press box, and install an electric scoreboard. The plans call for throwing events, such as javelin and the shot put, to get moved across Ring Road.

As for the Fenner House, a 19th-century Central Avenue structure, Kessler said “We were taking a look at razing the building… now we think we have a use for the building.

Heritage-loving Fredonians led a community outcry against tearing the house down when that got proposed. Now, according to Kessler, SUNY Fredonia officials hope it can be revamped into a counseling site for students who are prospective psychologists.

A $200,000 study will look into putting the student counseling program at several places, one of them the Fenner House.

Kessler said the school is in a quandary when it comes to the house. The state construction fund is leery of backing any projects there because of its elderly condition; however, preservationists locally and in Albany demand that the structure get stabilized.

Kessler mentioned some other projects:

— Kirkland Plaza within the dorms on Temple Street is set to be replaced. It will get repaved, more green spaces will be created and a seating area near the shuttered Erie Dining Hall will get renovated.

College Council President Frank Pagano asked how the dining hall was going to get reused. “It’s something we’ve struggled with,” Kessler said.

— Two roofs on Maytum hall will be replaced.

— Emergency generators will also get replaced.

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