The West Virginia Osteopathic School is about to break ground on one of three planned projects on the school’s campus next Monday.
Called “the biggest changes EVER to come to Lewisburg,” by at least one Lewisburg resident, who also claims no public hearings or announcements have been issued for the school’s development plans.
Dr. Michael Adelman, president of the O-School, refuted the claim that the college has not disclosed plans for further developments on the Lewisburg campus. On the contrary, he said, “The Osteopathic School has always been about transparency.”
Surprised by the suggestion that there’s not been any public hearings for the projects, Dr. Adelman cited several occasions over the past year or more where presentations were made to make the public aware of the progress and achievements of the school at both Rotary and Lions Club meetings, and at various other events. Plans with pictures have also been printed in both local papers. He said the school’s board of governors meetings are open to the public and are publicly announced.
Of the three projects in the works, Adelman said, the first is an expansion of the Clinical Evaluation Center, currently ongoing, at 20,000 square feet, it will almost double in size, adding another 18,000 square footage to the building. This is where students are trained using “actors,” (actually community members) who pose as having ailment symptoms which students must identify and treat. The addition will add a robotics area, meeting room, and office space when finished in October of this year. The cost for the addition is tagged at $5 to 6 million. Dr. Adelman said the clinical evaluation center has received its accreditation as a simulation center. It is the only one in WV, and is one of only 33 in the entire world.
Secondly, Adelman said the new student center at 53,000 square feet will house student food services, study space and a recreation area, as well as an expanded book store, and student government offices-all on the ground floor. The second floor will become a convention center to accommodate up to 1000 people. This will be open for public use as a service and a”give back” to the community. Other than The Greenbrier resort, Adelman said, the area is without an adequate space for large gatherings, lectures or meeting places. “We try to be good neighbors,” he said, but the auditorium’s main use will be primarily for the school itself as there is no place available for the entire student body of over 400 and the staff of 277 to gather as a whole.
The community already make frequent use of the space at the Alumni Center at the east end of the campus. Parking will be added in that section, and elsewhere, so visitors can better access the Alumni Center during events. A multi-level garage is not in the plans for the school, Adelman stated.
The Student Center structure will become the center of the school as the mainstay of student activities. It will be a two-year construction project, culminating in 2016, and costs will run to $22 to $25 million. Included in the plans is a “controversial” 125-foot clock tower. As the tallest structure around, Dr. Adelman still insisted it will not be visible throughout Lewisburg. At 12 stories high, the alumni-funded clock tower was approved by the Airport Authority, even though the airport rarely concerns itself with anything under 150 feet. Even from I-64 only the tip of the tower will be visible, Adelman said.
The O-school has had a Master Plan in place for 10 years, Adelman said. Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester has also been aware of the plans and developments and was present at the original meeting when the plans was approved by the higher education policy commission that met in 2011, Adelman said.
The entryway onto the school property is third project in the pipeline and is not expected to be started for another year. Dr. Adelman said it will simply be an entry “driveway,” not a”road” exactly which is not expected to affect other local or residential traffic.
The Osteopathic School, as a nationally recognized institution situated in Lewisburg has seemed “lost in town,” Adelman said. As a result, the board of governors opted to make the school “more visible” with an entryway which opens directly from the main highway (219) to the school without any other roadways involved. This, he said, seemed the most direct way to help give the school recognition and a sense of presence within the community. The entryway will go through the small park in front of the school where the City of Lewisburg has built a sidewalk. Adelman said the school plans to build up the ground along Hwy. 219 to create a turn lane and to give enough of a shoulder to replace the sidewalk at the school’s expense, so that walkers (and wheelchair-bound persons) will have a level walkway to traverse. The park is a sinkhole and injection wells will be installed to allow for adequate water flow to clear the park.
Local residents have approached the Lewisburg City Council about the O-School’s plans on various points and traffic concerns were high among them. But Dr. Adelman countered, stating he did not see how a new entryway directly to the school would affect any current streets and roads bordering the school, including Silo Lane, Lee Street and Greenbrier Avenue. Dwyer Lane had been mentioned by residents at a recent Lewisburg City Council meeting as a potential problem with the school’s construction projects, but that roadway is more appropriately an issue for the City, Adelman said. Another Lewisburg resident who spoke up at the council meeting, said she believed the city of Lewisburg has oversight of the school’s developments because of the Historic District. Adelman said he did not believe the school was within the historic district.
Dr. Adelman said he welcomes communications with anyone interested in the Osteopathic School and any development or issue they may wish to take up with him. Adelman has been president of the school for four years and under his direction the school has grown into prominent institution for learning and as an enhancement to the Lewisburg community.