By Stephanie Parsons
Most have noticed the restoration of Frisbie Hall in the Old Quad and the science areas in Wheeler Hall, but there is a lot more construction and improvement coming to Coby. In the beginning of the spring semester into the summer of 2011 the new agricultural building will be breaking ground, and should be finished for the students that are arriving in the fall semester of 2013. The new agricultural building will house four different programs, Animal Science, Agricultural Business, Plant Science and Fisheries and Wildlife.
During an interview, Dr. Anne Meyers talked more about the new agricultural building and its plans. “We will have four areas housed in there, and the plans are now to make it a state-of-the-art building to showcase the programs. We will also have spaces for students to meet and study, at least one major computer room, conference space, and spaces to showcase plants and the Fisheries and Wildlife collections, [both] alive and taxidermy animals.” Dr. Meyers added, “We also hope to make this a demonstration of environmentally sound building practices, and will be working toward a LEED-Platinum building. There will also be state-of-the-art greenhouses, meat cutting labs and storage lockers, and other hands-on work spaces.”
The planning for this new agricultural building has been in effect for a long time, but, Dr. Meyers stated, “A new building for Fisheries and Wildlife has been in the plans for at least five years. However, when we had a Master Facilities Plan completed in 2007, and that plan included a new agriculture building that would house Animal Science, Agricultural Business, Plant Science and Fisheries and Wildlife, we decided to move in that direction.” Dr. Meyers then goes on to clarified that the old Dairy barn was supposed to be the new building for the fish and wildlife students. “Well, the plan was to rehab the old Dairy barn, so that was to be the entire building for the fish and wildlife program and we had only $3.5 million. Now they are a good portion of a $42-million building.”
“The new agricultural building will have about 100,000 square feet when finished, but this includes walls and all of the spaces needed for heating and cooling and other operational systems, so only about 60% of that is habitable space. Habitable space is about 52,000 square feet and of that, Fish and Wildlife will be getting about 13,205.” Dr. Meyers also acknowledged the new facilities fisheries and wildlife will be receiving within the new building. “The architects are just now doing the conceptual designs. There will be a new warm-water and a new cold-water hatchery, much larger than we have now, and four new labs, including Mammalogy, Ornithology, Herpetology and Taxidermy. There will be storage and a walk-in freezer, a feed storage room and three environmental control rooms.”
With a new building being built, with four main majors combined within the new building, one must wonder if there will be territorial issues. Dr. Meyers addressed this concern as well. “Facilities Planners estimated what our needs would be in the next six to ten years and department chairs and faculty told the architects what was needed. Everyone is going to get better space than they now have and in most cases, more space.”
Professor Kevin Berner, an advisor for the Wildlife program at SUNY Cobleskill pointed out, “We will benefit by having everything in one place not being scattered all over campus in remote sites. The spaces will be designed for what they will be used for. The current fish lab was originally designed as a cafeteria. The mammal room, duck room, reptile room were all designed to be dorm rooms, not labs. The current taxidermy space was built as a milking parlor and the warm water hatchery was the dairy’s bulk tank room. They are all ill-equipped to serve their current purposes.”
Home Economics was not built for any of the wildlife stuff that is there now, so the new building would be better equipped for fish and wildlife students. “The new building will be much better designed for our use. The increased lab sizes would allow less cramped use than current spaces. They weren’t designed for a great increase in numbers of students.”
Brent Lehman, the fish hatchery manager, also believes that getting a new building will help the F&W program and the other majors that will be included in this project. “Most of the majors affected by this building are constricted by their current spaces. Having new labs spaces and class rooms can only help,” he stated. But he also had some critiques. “The Fish and Wildlife space is larger than our current classroom sizes but still too small for our current numbers enrolled in some of the courses. Having larger spaces will help and hurt the program. With more seats we will have more students and lose the ability to have more one-on-one interaction with students. Hands-on labs will be more difficult. With more faculty and staff that problem can be resolved.” Professor Berner added to that, “To increase the numbers of students the more critical need would be more faculty.”
The Home Economics building has been home to many college students. Many have spent hours on days studying for tests, working on projects, even having classes in the classrooms. The taxidermy animals are spread around all over the place. The new building is going to be a huge change for many students. Even though some are graduating, this will be a great addition to the school. There have been great memories with the Home Economics Building, and there are new and exciting more memories to come.