Long Beach State will undergo its first on-campus housing initiative in 30 years this summer.
The plans for a residence hall along Atherton Street is expected to phase into construction this August. In accordance the campus’ 2008 master plan, LBSU officials are undergoing this housing initiative to double the number of beds on campus. Updates on this construction project were revealed at a Long Beach State sponsored community meeting at the Barrett Athletic Administration Center Saturday.
Currently, the plan calls for building a three-story residence hall along Atherton and a four-story building facing campus. The net-zero housing, which will use as much renewable energy as it produces, will be offered to freshman. The residence halls will provide an additional 450 beds for students, and officials hope the project will be finished by May 2021.
“Students living on campus have been shown to increase student success, student retention, reduce[d] time to graduation,” said Michael Gardner, capital projects manager for Physical Planning and Facilities Management.
Another construction project in the works is the alumni center, which is still in its conceptual stage.
The proposed alumni center was presented as a 7,000-square-foot, one-story building next to the Walter Pyramid. It will consist of a library, a board room, a lobby for small receptions and some office spaces. The Pointe, which is connected to the Pyramid, will be utilized for banquets, pre-game activities and conferences.
“This space that we chosen really does make the most sense as we utilize space concerns and existing infrastructure that we already have here on campus,” said Michele Cesca, vice president of university relations.
Original plans for the center’s location had placed it at the corner of Merriam Way and Atherton Street. The center also initially encompassed 15,000 square feet. However, university officials changed the location after community concerns about the placement affecting parking.
Constructing the center by the Pyramid sets the center back at least 70 feet from the street and takes up 2 percent of the lawn area. To prevent an obstruction of the view, administration decided to make the center one-story.
“We have landscaped with trees only to help concerns with neighbors so that we are really mitigating any noise that would be generated … and just as a beautification type of activity,” Cesca said.
During a community discussion at the meeting, neighbors brought up concerns that the university had promised the green space near the pyramid would remain empty. Some believed the green space should be preserved for activities like women’s rugby practices and graduation.
During the meeting, it was announced that the Puvungna study agenda item was dropped because there was not enough information to share with the community about it, Gardner said. According to Gardner, the study is to assess the land and its future.
Melissa Soto, project manager at PPFM, said the study is a yearlong process that includes finding out what the American Indian community, students and faculty on campus feel about the space.
“Right now I feel like we are in the phase of understanding what the space means to different groups of people,” Soto said.
According to Gardner, PPFM has been meeting with the American Indian studies program to discuss the Puvungna study and collaborating with Craig Stone, director of American Indian Studies.
“I think what should be done with that land is what we should be talking about,” Gardner said. “Should the current uses be more formalized?”
Community members, some of whom were also American Indians, expressed concern that the school’s plan to meet with a landscape architect meant that they were going to develop on the land.
“We don’t want development in Puvungna,” said Jan Sampson, LBSU alumnus and Long Beach resident. “No big cement buildings, no cement or concrete.”
Gardner said this study was not about development, but rather about making sure there is a defined plan for the space to deal with issues such as construction debris, non-native trees and fire protection.
“I think everyone is better off if there is a plan rather than waiting to see what is going to happen to it,” Gardner said.
According to Gardner, examples of what they are looking at include turning a storm drain back into a natural creek.
“[Puvungna] is a home base for a lot of Native people in Long Beach and sometimes I just feel like the school is doing all this stuff with Puvungna and Native people around here don’t always know what’s going on,” Sampson said.
While the American Indian studies faculty on campus is being updated, she said, the greater American Indian community is left in the dark.
“The entire Indian community has to be told what’s the future of Puvungna and what the future of these meetings are involving,” Sampson said.
For information on future meetings and community updates, visit csulb.edu/beachcommunity.