Trustees vote to improve entrance-way

The Mercyhurst College Board of Trustees decided on Thursday, Jan. 21, to proceed with the Front Entrance Landscaping Renovation Project.

“The front entrance is a special area of Mercyhurst College. The gates, the stately trees lining the driveway, Old Main and the Tower—these are majestic first and lasting impressions of the College,” Tom Billingsley, vice president executive of administration, said.

“This project will restore and enhance the landscaping beauty of the front entrance, which has aged and suffered significant winter storm damage over the years,” Billingsley said.

Over the next several weeks, the college administration will conduct site analyses while The Buildings and Grounds Committee, an advisory group of the Board of Trustees, works with college personnel to select a landscape architect and designer to develop design and construction documents for the project.

The front entrance area includes the main entrance gates, guardhouses and walkways from East 38th Street to the area between the Hammermill Library and Egan Hall.

New walkways from East 38th Street will allow students to walk through the guardhouses rather than walk on the roadway underneath the main gates.

“I will be glad to see walkways down to the entrance gates but hope that the beauty and tradition of the main gates and entrance is not compromised by this renovation,” freshman Chelsea Schermerhorn said.

Walkways will be improved with benches, pedestrian lighting and new tree plantings “that can stand the test of time,” Billingsley said.

The gates, which Billingsley described as “a cherished historical feature,” will not be altered.

“I don’t feel that new walkways are completely necessary, but from a safety point-of-view, it is understandable,” freshman Kaylee Mowery said. “The most important feature of these new walkways would be the new lighting that would be installed. Something needs to be done about how poorly lit that area is.”

The anticipated timetable places the completion of the final design in the spring, followed by construction plans and a final bidding by May. Construction will take place from June to August.

“We’ve got it set up now for a successful project,” Billingsley said.