ANNAPOLIS – The Board of Public Works Wednesday approved construction of an $80 million dormitory on the University of Maryland, College Park campus, just two weeks after saying the money could be “better spent.”
At the board’s Oct. 1 meeting, Comptroller Peter Franchot said he was considering voting against construction of the dorm, believing the university should make use of public-private partnerships instead.
But officials from the University System of Maryland and the College Park campus said there are benefits to a mix of student housing types.
“We are great fans of private-public partnerships and in fact in the last nine years we have built 2,500 beds in that fashion,” said Linda Clement, vice president for student affairs at Maryland. “This particular building that we want to build is different than the projects that we’ve done before.”
The new building, Oakland Hall, will be constructed alongside other dorms on the university’s North campus and will provide 650 beds to predominantly underclassmen.
Under a public-private partnership, the construction of the building would have been funded by a private company that would manage the residence after its completion. Maryland’s Courtyards and South Campus Commons were built following this arrangement.
Although this sort of partnership removes the financial burden from the university, it also eliminates the school’s ability to create a living environment in Oakland Hall that is consistent with other dormitories.
“We want them to live under the same rules of our student codes of conduct and we want them to pay the same costs that the other people in that housing complex are going to pay,” Clement said.
According to the University of Maryland Facilities Management Web site, construction of the dorm is projected to begin in August 2009. It is expected to be completed by April 2011.