$15 million theater just one project set for fall, Sechrist says

Change is coming to OCCC this fall and spring as many projects are scheduled to get under way, said President Paul Sechrist.

Those include a groundbreaking for a theater at the Visual and Performing Arts Center, Capitol Hill Center renovations and various other campuswide renovations and improvements.

VPAC Theater

Groundbreaking for the new theater is scheduled for the fall.

The theater will be constructed on the west side of the VPAC and is expected to cost $15 million.

The college had raised $13.2 million for construction of the theater by March 2010, but still needed $2.8 million, said John Boyd, Business and Finance vice president.

Sechrist said the college had recently acquired the money via a government-lending program called the Master Lease program.

“The … program provides a way for all the colleges to go together and put their projects into a lump proposal,” Sechrist said. “This lease-to-own arrangement allows the college to get better rates and to take care of the $2.8 million we needed back in March.”

John Massey Center

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2011, Sechrist said.

Also to begin in spring 2011 is construction of the new John Massey Center, which houses the financing and human resources departments of the college.

“The new center will be on the south side of campus about 50 feet from the Child Development Center,” Boyd said.

He said the $2.6 million for the center came from a deal struck by the college with Chesapeake Energy.

Boyd said he hopes to present design plans for the new center to the OCCC Regents in August.

He said once the board approves the designs and the Child Development Center is moved off campus to the Family Community Education Center, construction on the new center will begin.

Boyd said the plan is to have the new center finished within the next two years.

He said OCCC has made arrangements with Chesapeake to allow the college to continue using the current center rent free for the next two years.

Capitol Hill Center

A third project was approved by the college regents June 21, when Boyd presented a recommendation for a Brown’s Field Revolving loan fund in order to treat an asbestos issue in the college’s Capitol Hill Center.

Boyd said the funding will come from money that Oklahoma City was awarded and OCCC applied for.

“We’ve been awarded $200,000 of that money,” he said.

Boyd said once the asbestos issue is taken care of, the college could begin renovating the center using $1.5 million of its Section 13 Offset funds.

“Section 13 Offset funds is money granted to the college by the state which can only be used for capital projects such as the VPAC Phase 2,” Boyd said. “They are limited to use only in capital projects.”

Not all students are happy about the improvements.

Brandon Conrad, network major, said he wonders how the college can afford all these projects with the tough economic times.

“Everybody’s low on money these days.” Conrad said. “Our staff and faculty could use some raises in their salary. Instead of giving raises to the people who run the college, they are building all these new projects.”

Boyd said the the repairs and raises are unrelated as the majority of the money being used for these projects couldn’t be used for anything else.

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