MADISON, NJ - The Madison Planning Board on Tuesday night approved the construction of a new University Center for Drew students. Margaret Howard, Vice President of University Relations, said in her testimony: “The University Center is a magnet that is used by everyone. Interior, presentation, and usability will change with the renovation.” The project is slated to begin this summer and end by June 2012.

Howard, Pamela Lucas Rew, James Hall, and F. Mitchell Ardman collaborated on the graphic and textual presentation for the board. Rew, who specializes in designing campus centers on behalf of KSS Architects, said that Drew’s new center will “respond to trends that students expect in their daily lives.” This includes “more detail, more scale, more attention to outdoor spaces” for “a more modern facility that is aesthetically appealing on the outside.” The current University Center’s roof will be replaced with one that is more reflective, and the center’s overall energy efficiency will increase by 28%.

The current center contains a bookstore and post office, and these will be excluded from the new center.

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Board member Peter R. Flemming commended Rew on having incorporated the building well with its green surroundings. Engineering Consultant Frank Russo expressed concern about the unattractiveness of grease dumpsters as a result of installing a new kitchen in the center, and Howard responded, “We’ll stay on top of it.”

Ardman, the Project Engineer, noted that construction will entail the relocating of some Dogwood trees, including a “very old” tree with branches that overhang onto the current center. Six replacement trees will be planted to compensate for the removal. The center will be equipped with more bathroom facilities and a sprinkler system, and surrounding parking will remain the same. The project was approved by all members of the Board.

Prior to hearing Drew's case, Planning Consultant Susan Blickstein summarized the Master Plan Re-examination Report, listing as the five key recommendations since the last report: “Look at provisions that encourage diversification of design; Look at zoning between CBD zones and gateway; Apply more sustainable design techniques not in use six years ago; Look into renewable energy facilities on a small lot scale; Look into a potential LED ordinance.” Carmela Vitale commented that these terms were “very doable in the next year or so.” With regard to the LED signs, the board honored the Master Plan’s goal to “preserve the character of the community” by “prohibiting LED signs while not precluding the use of LED technology as a light source.”

Howard of Drew University also presented a Master Land Use Plan to enclose 15-18 acres of property on the West side of campus with a ten-foot fence to “keep out hungry deer” and encourage re-forestation. The gates will not prevent community members from walking through the area and witnessing the progress. The implementation of this plan could result in richer scenery on the West side of campus.

The meeting ended amiably, with Drew University representatives pleased to implement their plans for an exciting new facility.