Summer means construction projects on the Hill

More than $1.5 million will be spent to improve the campus


Jade Zhao

One of the many projects taking place on the Hill this summer will be the complete repaving of the parking lot adjacent to the Shiel Student Life Center.

Ellie Barnes, Reporter

Every summer while students are away, updates are made on the Hill. Last year the campus underwent the major construction of the Innovation Center, and this year there will be many projects but on a smaller scale.

These projects include building the Johnny Mac coffee house in the Shiel Student Life Center, constructing a playground for Irish Blessings, fixing parking lots and redirecting the water flow in the ravine behind Cunningham to stop erosion.

Envoy, the same construction company that built the Innovation Center, will work on the ravine, the parking lots of the SLC and behind Kelly Hall and the coffee shop.

The facilities and technology coordinator, Mrs. Gara Schommer, said, “We’re actually starting now on many of (the projects). There’s a lot of details to finalize, which takes a lot of work right now. So they’re all ongoing right now, you just don’t physically see it.”

One of these projects the construction team is currently working on is obtaining a city permit in order to begin redirecting the water flow down the parking lots and the ravine. Construction on the ravine includes directing water through pipes down the ravine to prevent damage to the parking lots. Schommer said, “Right now (water) runs and goes through the SLC parking lot and it’s caused erosion. So they’re actually going to change the way the water goes down into the ravine.”

However, the city permit that is needed in order to start construction work is taking time. In an email, Chief Operating Officer Mr. Rolly Landeros said, “Permits are still pending from the city to give Envoy the green light on construction.” These permits are needed because work on the ravine will affect the waterway spillway into Fall Creek, which goes into the city’s source of drinking water.

Along with redirecting the water flow, the construction team plans to completely refurbish the eroded parts of the parking lots. Schommer said, “They’ll resurface. They’re going to take the whole driveway off, down to the ground, relevel it and then rebuild it.” However, only one or two additional parking spots will be added to the parking lots.

Schommer said she hopes that all of this construction will be complete by the end of July. She said, “It’s all going to depend on the weather as well as the city permit.”

Another project dependent on the city permit is the construction of the Irish Blessings playground. Schommer said, “They can’t start their work until we get the permit from the city for the ravine work, because it affects going down the hill into the waterway.”

An addition to the Hill is the Johnny Mac coffee shop, which will be constructed in the SLC, displacing assistant campus minister Mrs. Bozzelli-Levine and school chaplain Fr. Emmanuel’s office. Schommer said, “The coffee shops will be built and ready to be opened (by the beginning of the school year).” However, students will need to be trained in operating the coffee shop, so it might take a couple of weeks into the school year before the coffee shop is fully functional, Schommer said.

Along with the new addition to the SLC, the library will undergo some updates as well. Schommer said, “The library is going to look a little different because there will be some classrooms in the library. The books will be up against the wall and the broadcasting class will go up there.” However, these plans involving both the library and the journalism computer lab in Loretto Hall are not yet final and are subject to some changes.

Combined, the cost of all of these projects will be $1.53 million.

With all of this construction as well as summer camps and summer school, it is sure to be a busy time on the Hill. However, Schommer promised that the construction projects will not interfere with the other activities taking place. She said, “We’ve been able to isolate areas that will not be touched.” These areas will be used by summer classes and camps. They include the Flexible Learning Center, which is in the Innovation Center; the front of the theater; the religion hallways; the cafeteria; the social studies hallway; and a portion of the SLC.

These new additions on campus will affect the students body when they return to school in the fall. Schommer said, “(The coffee shop) is going to create a nice vibe downstairs in the Student Life Center. It will kind of fit its name and bring energy to the Student Life Center.” Along with this, it is a welcome relief to know that the work in the parking lot will help reduce potholes and bumps on the Hill, Schommer said.

On a final note, Schommer wants all students to check their emails before visiting the Hill during the summer because construction will be ongoing and may affect their ability to access the campus.