In the next few months, New College will begin to move forward on three projects along 58th Street on the west side of campus: moving power lines underground, connecting the street to College Drive, and eventually creating student housing.
This improvement project is part of New College’s Campus Master Plan, which was adopted in June 2008 and updated in October 2015 as a guide for the development of New College facilities over the next 20 years.
“Conceptually, this project is more of a safety enhancement than anything. It will give us two exits on the west side of campus,” said Chris Kinsley, New College’s vice president of finance and administration. “We’d like to get it started in 2021, but a lot of it will be dependent on dollars coming out of our carry-forward funds. Hopefully, after the 2021 legislative session, we’ll be in really good shape.”
Located next to The Ringling museum, 58th Street is just south of B Dorm. The first improvement to this area will be the undergrounding of the electrical power lines, which are currently located along the south side of the properties on 58th Street (and they will be relocated to the north side).
These overhead lines are often damaged in windstorms, which causes frequent power outages in Cook Hall and the homes located along 58th Street. Florida Power & Light (FPL) is taking this project one step further and connecting this new underground power line with one that currently supplies College Hall, creating a loop (so that power can be fed in either direction in case of future damage anywhere along the loop). The cost of the $150,000 project is being covered by FPL as part of their statewide hurricane resiliency project. A beginning date has not yet been determined.
The second project is the design of an extension of 58th Street to connect it to College Drive near Cook Hall. In the Campus Master Plan, the Bayfront Campus Academic Area was envisioned as the heart of the New College campus because of its scenic, highly walkable, vibrant outdoor areas. To capitalize on this, the continuation of 58th Street to connect with College Drive was deemed a “high-priority project.”
“This will improve automobile circulation and provide an alternate to Bay Shore Road. The loop reduces car traffic on Bay Shore Road at the Dort Promenade pedestrian crossing,” the Campus Master Plan stated. “The new configuration minimizes impacts on existing trees and the bamboo grove. It utilizes the existing alignment of 58th Street, and requires only a minor adjustment to College Drive.”
The design of this project will take into consideration the addition of ADA pedestrian access, safety lighting and the impact on the existing trees. The Campus Development Subcommittee on Landscape and Signage will be included in the design process.
New College’s Campus Master Plan has also identified several properties adjacent to campus to potentially purchase (through the New College Foundation) for student housing facilities in the future, including five single-family lots along 58th Street. This item is still a long way down the road.
“That area is designated for future campus housing, and that would be our intention when we acquire the rest of the properties,” Kinsley said. “But it all depends on funding and need.”