Sidewalk not in plans for College Park Apartments

Nick Zinovenko, Staff Writer

The College Park Apartments, which were closed at the beginning of the fall 2013 semester, are to reopen within the next six years, though likely without safety precaution.

The apartments were closed, according to Housing and Residence Life Director Mark Dougherty, primarily due to worn-down balconies presenting a safety risk.

Another safety risk some have pointed out is the lack of sidewalks leading from the apartments to the Pitt-Johnstown campus.

This problem is not restricted to just these apartments either. Pitt-Johnstown professor Boris Kushner said the lack of sidewalks also presents a problem when walking from the Bloomfield Apartments.

“Walking from the Bloomfield Apartments to UPJ on the side of the street is definitely not safe,” Kushner said.

Another Pitt-Johnstown professor, Paul Lucas, also said it can be difficult to get around the area without sidewalks.

“I would say the lack of sidewalks makes it difficult,” Lucas said.

He said he tries to avoid walking to Wal-Mart along the road due to safety concerns. While walking on grass fields and parking lots works at times, the weather does not always allow alternative routes.

“When snow accumulates on the ground, the fields can obviously be really hard to use,” Lucas said.

Dougherty said renovations for the apartments were in the 7-year strategic plan that went into effect in 2014 and that a budget line has been established.

Dougherty said that at this time, planning has not proceeded far enough to determine what specifically will be done.

The University used a shuttle system to provide rides to students at the apartments and to Bloomfield.

These services ended when the apartments were closed, leaving students to either walk or drive to campus.

It is unclear whether a shuttle service will be provided after renovation. In regards to sidewalks, the issue has been raised in the past.

Pitt-Johnstown professor Ola Johansson said he talked to township officials 10 years ago about building sidewalks, but that the idea ended nowhere.

In addition, a proposal to build sidewalks was considered in 2005, although Township Supervisors’ Chairman Melvyn Wingard said, due to funding and zoning issues, they were not built.