Section: News

After delays, work persists

After delays, work persists

When students arrived on campus this year, they did not see the Village they remembered. Instead, an orange construction fence bordered parts of Middle Path and there was a hole in the ground where the Black Box Theater used to be.

This summer, the College ran into a number of delays with Middle Path, the demolition of the Black Box and the subsequent construction of the new Village Market and Middle Path over the summer, according to Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman. The new student theatre also experienced delays.

“It’s been a mixed bag for projects this summer,” President Sean Decatur said.

The final step of Middle Path’s remodeling job stalled for two weeks when an opportunity arose to repair and replace parts of Gambier’s storm water system. Construction remained on hold as the College sought approval from the Village Council to implement the new changes, according to Kohlman.

Delays to the Black Box’s demolition impeded the new Village Market construction, part of Kenyon’s $18 million Village of Gambier Revitalization Construction, resulted from problems in obtaining a state permit, and did not stem from any issues with the College’s plans for construction.  The Middle Path portion of the project will cost $2.3 million. Construction for the new Black Box was also prolonged due to Columbia Gas of Ohio incorrectly marking the location of pipes at the site.

Last Friday, Edgar Martin ’17, student chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, predicted renovations to Middle Path would be completed by Sept. 1. This week, construction crews will lay sod and plant new trees along the path. Students can expect to walk on Middle Path again by the end of September, both Martin and Kohlman said.

“As soon as we have enough time for the path material to cure, we’ll open it all up,” Kohlman said. If students walk on Middle Path before it’s done curing, they could delay the reopening by a few more weeks.

Decatur said he was “disappointed” that construction was still unfinished when new Kenyon students moved in.

Kenyon’s president is not alone: Some students are frustrated that Middle Path is still not open. “At the moment it’s not great,” said Jack Murphy ’18, who expected the construction would be completed by the end of the summer. “The annoying part is having to take the detour around the Gates of Hell.”

Despite the grumblings around campus, not all reactions have been negative.

“You can tell it’s going to be something great,” Allison Tignor ’20 said. “From all the construction I’ve seen, it’s going to turn out to be really beautiful.”

As for the new student theater space replacing the Black Box currently under construction next to the Craft Center  students will have to wait a little longer before they can perform there. Director of Student Engagement Laura Kane and Assistant Director of Student Engagement Kim Blank are working to find a temporary substitute for the Black Box. Blank anticipates the new theater will open by November.

Natalie Kane ’18 said she wished the College gave students a more timely notice before tearing down the Black Box. She is directing a production of Betrayal for Brave Potato, a student theatre group.

“It was definitely a little inconvenient and a little sudden when it was announced,” Kane said. “But we’ve heard it’s supposed to be done in November … so, you know, in the great scheme of things, that’s not that much time that we’ll be without a performance space.”

The Horn Gallery and Colburn Hall may serve as temporary venue replacements for theater groups, according to Blank. Kane said they’re considering Weaver Cottage to host their production for the end of September.

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