$18M residence hall opens at Kenai Peninsula College


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KENAI — Decades in the making, 96 rooms in 30 apartment-like residences are now open to students at Kenai Peninsula College.

Some work remains to do today, but Bristol Construction superintendent Russell Walls — who has been on the job from the dirt work to the final touches — said Aug. 15 that everything will be ready for the students to enter their new homes on schedule.

That night, the first to move into the $17.8 million LEED designed building, replete with all the 21st-century dorm life desires — large flat panel TVs, exercise rooms, top level security with key card access, full kitchens, leather and wood furnishings, Wi-Fi, a gamer room and a nine-hole disc golf course — were a group of resident assistants.

“(The dorms) have every little wonderful thing you can imagine; super smart stuff,” said Suzie Kendrick, KPC advancement program coordinator. All of it, for $3,200 per quarter, she added.

According to college officials, the Formal Project Approval request was submitted in 2011 to the University of Alaska Board of Regents with an estimate of $16 million to construct a 35,000 gross square feet housing facility. However, the regents approved the project at a revised cost of $17.8 million based on an additional $1.8 million included by the Alaska Legislature in the FY12 Capital Budget. The additional funding allowed the scope to include additional support spaces that could not have been included within the original budget, increasing the size of the facility to 39,678 gross square feet. The project is presently 12 percent ($2.2 million) under the total project budget.

Students enrolled in nine credit hours of class are eligible to live in the dorms while attending KPC. The dorms will start out with students from all over Alaska and distant places, such as Tyler, Texas.

According to Scott Sellers, the senior among the resident assistants said, plans for the first night were for a “responsible house-warming party.”

He and five others will see to the quality of life and the safety of the 40 students who will inhabit the first dorms on the rapidly growing Soldotna campus, which is centered on high-end technical associate degrees. For their efforts, each will get their own solo apartment.

“It’s a little nerve wracking,” said resident assistant Naomi Smardo of her new job to deal with crisis, settle differences between students and be a first responder, of sorts, to the 16 students assigned to her watch.

Dorm registration began in April and eventually about 90 students will live within sight of their classrooms.

Along with the dorms opening, the $15 million Career and Technical Education Center built to match the equipment and workplaces that students will move onto after graduation also opened. Combined, the new residences and the CTEC support an associate’s degree in applied sciences approach to the school.

“We believe it will be a powerful model,” Kendrick said.

Greg Skinner can be reached at greg.skinner@penisulaclarion.com.

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