Where the old science building once stood, Hastings College now has wide open space.
“We’ve got soon-to-be green space that’s just dirt right now, but it really has opened up the campus,” says college President Don Jackson.
Jackson calls the area the “center core” of the school, and with the Hastings City Council voting to close the block of 9th Street that runs next to it (between Elm and Ash Avenues), the college plans to do even more.
“The really big thing it will do for us is it will tie our north and south parts of our campus together, we envision a pedestrian mall there and a gathering place, outdoor gathering place for students,” says Jackson.
Jackson says his goal is to have students walk and bike to class more, and thinks the street closure will help by making a continuous campus. He says it will aid in more development too.
“As we enhance and expand our Student Union it will give us an opportunity to grow toward the Ninth Street in that manner as well,” he says.
The closure isn’t set to happen until June 1, 2015, and Hastings City Engineer Dave Wacker says they’re planning to fix up surrounding streets, including repaving Ash Avenue and adding curbs, gutters, and sidewalks.
“There’ll be some intersection improvements at Ash Avenue and also Turner Avenue to compliment the pedestrian mall that the college is working on, so we’ll be working on those plans in the next coming months,” says Wacker.
The street closure will eliminate some parking spaces at the college, but Jackson says they’ve got plans for new lots off of Ash Avenue that will create more spaces than they have now.