POTTSTOWN PA – Construction is now under way, and could be completed by May 2024, to transform a North Hall parking lot at the Pottstown campus of Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) into green space that is expected to benefit students and the community.
Work on the project at 16 E. High St. began in late October, the college reported Wednesday (Nov. 1, 2023). A roughly one-acre parking area will be re-created as a grass-covered space that includes a new retaining wall, site lighting, and drainage along the nearby Manatawny Creek.
It’s intended to be used as “a place where students gather either informally or as part of an outdoor classroom,” according to Dr. Celeste Schwartz, the college’s vice president of the Pottstown Campus, Information Technology, and Institutional Effectiveness. “It also will be a beautiful area for the community to gather for events or relax and enjoy the Manatawny Creek,” she said.
During construction, students and the community will continue to have access to the underpass leading from North Hall to MCCC’s South Hall at 101 College Dr.
A continuing investment in Pottstown
The new green space is one of several campus projects MCCC has tackled in recent years as part of its continued investment in the Pottstown community, the college noted.
- In August 2022, the college opened the Challenger Learning Center at 140 College Dr. The hands-on, immersive experience in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics provides space-themed missions for students in grades 5-8, and is said to be the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.
- In December 2022, the college opened its Wellness Center in North Hall, envisioned as what it describes as “a centralized tiered system of wellness resources to help students with the vital essentials they need to succeed.” The center includes a food pantry, counseling center, sensory room, collaboration space, and student support programs. The project was funded by a $1 million Community Mental Health Services Block Grant from Montgomery County.
- Earlier this year, during April, the college re-opened its South Hall building’s renovated first floor. It “was intentionally re-imagined and designed to support students comprehensively,” the college said, “by bringing services together in one area and providing flexible spaces for study, collaboration and engagement.” Half of the South Hall’s $4.24 million renovation cost was covered by a capital appropriation from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Institutional funding paid for the remainder.
The first-floor space includes a “Science on a Sphere” display of planetary data, made possible in part by local residents Sylvia and Carl Landis. It also features an Esports Room for the college Mustangs esports team, a fitness room, showers, renovated library, testing and tutoring spaces, student services area, Montco Market and dining area, laundry and lactation rooms, adjustable study spaces, a student commons and community area, an all-inclusive restroom, and a game room.
Investment, too, at the Blue Bell main campus
- At its Blue Bell Campus, MCCC currently is renovating the former bookstore into a 20,400-square-foot Hospitality Institute, slated to open in Fall 2024. The facility will include a culinary students-operated educational restaurant open to the public, as well as bakery and pastry shop, and pasta and chocolate laboratories.
- Also at Blue Bell, the college in September celebrated the re-opening of its newly renovated Science Center and 563-seat theater. Built in 1972, the 118,689-square-foot Science Center was remodeled and modernized to provide students with hands-on access to the latest science and engineering technology, including robotic arms and 3D printers.
The re-designed, technologically advanced theater is the centerpiece of the college’s recently launched Montco Cultural Center. It encompasses all of its arts and culture programming and venues, including its Black Box Theater and fine art galleries at both campuses.
Renovations at the Pottstown and Blue Bell campuses are part of the college’s 2012-2022 Facilities Master Plan.
Photo provided to Travels to The Post by Montgomery County Community College