Friday, May 19, 2006
No wrecking ball for Trickett Hall
By David Blymire, Sentinel Reporter, May 19, 2006
Score one for the preservationists.
Amid growing opposition, Penn State University has decided to scrap its plans for a modern Dickinson School of Law building.
Trickett Hall will be spared from the wrecking ball and preserved as the centerpiece of a $30 million construction project at the South College Street site.
"Instead of building a new law school facility, our plan now is to undertake an extensive renovation... which we believe still will enable us to achieve our objective as a unified two-campus law school," Dean Philip McConnaughay said Thursday.
The dean said Penn State had hoped to complete a $50 million project in Carlisle, "but the recent climate of opposition interfered with our ability to reach our financial goal and appeared to threaten ongoing delays and frustration in our ability to complete our new building in a timely fashion."
Area residents and historic preservationists collected more than 2,500 signatures on petitions and asked Carlisle Borough Council, Gov. Ed Rendell and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to intervene.
Two of the residents this morning were very happy with the announcement.
"Wow," was all Judi Shunk initially could say when she learned that Trickett would be retained.
Shunk took the group’s plea to borough council last week as residents packed borough hall for the council meeting.
"I am sitting here and I am smiling," she said this morning. "That’s probably the reaction of the committee. We are absolutely heartened by the decision."
Charles Andrews called the announcement "wonderful news" and added, "I applaud the decision. I think its the appropriate thing to do."
Penn State hired Polshek Partnership Architects of New York last fall to design new law school facilities for the campuses in State College and Carlisle.
The architects drew up plans for a long, narrow curvilinear structure at each location with a three-story, 80,000-square-foot structure planned for the Carlisle campus.
But those plans have been tossed aside and officials are starting over.
"The architects are now taking a fresh look at what we can do," McConnaughay said.
He said Penn State is aiming to complete renovations by January 2009 but the change of plans could delay the reopening of the building by six months.
With the recent change in direction, the dean couldn’t provide many details of the new plans.
"We will end up with a facility that is very nicely renovated and probably will provide as much...operating space as the new facility would have provided," he said. "Right now, we contemplate an extensive renovation rather than new construction."
He said the law school is still planning to move most of its operations to the Advantica building on Harrisburg Pike in Middlesex Township this summer.
The law school would remain there until the project at Trickett Hall is complete.
Some offices may remain behind at the Trickett Hall site, he added.
Friday, May 12, 2006
By David Blymire, May 12, 2006
A Carlisle resident Thursday asked borough council to join the fight to save the 88-year-old home of Dickinson School of Law from the wrecking ball.
"We are dangerously close, as you are aware, of forever losing this venerable emblem of both Pennsylvania’s historic law school and the borough of Carlisle," said Judi Shunk of the Old Neighborhoods League.
Shunk compared Trickett Hall to the Old Courthouse, Dickinson College’s Old West, the churches in the Carlisle Square, the statue of Molly Pitcher and Carlisle Theatre.
She asked council to seek a dialogue with Penn State officials on the preservation, renovation and expansion of Trickett Hall rather than demolition.
Supporters applaud remarks
Shunk’s remarks drew loud applause from the crowd of supporters who turned out at borough hall to make an impression on borough officials.
Penn State officials propose to demolish Trickett Hall at South College and West South streets to make way for a possible three-story building constructed in a modern architectural style.
That design was chosen by a university committee from among four designs created by Polshek Partnership Architects of New York. The design won’t become official until the Penn State trustees approve.
"We appreciate your passion on this," Council President Donald Grell told the Trickett Hall supporters. "This is a very prominent building in our community."
Borough’s options limited
But Grell also said that the borough’s options are limited, adding: "Penn State is making a very substantial investment in our community."
Vice President Linda Cecconello suggested council send a letter to Penn State President Graham Spanier and law school Dean Philip McConnaughay asking them to meet with the concerned citizens and members of borough council.
Councilman Perry Heath said what Penn State is proposing is "like putting a square peg in a round hole. Trickett Hall needs to be saved... at least the facade if not the whole building."
Timothy Wachter, Dickinson School of Law’s student "ambassador" on borough council, said he initially supported Penn State’s proposal but later changed his mind.
"I could not imagine associating myself with the current version of the plan," Wachter said.
No one spoke in favor of Penn State’s plans at Thursday’s borough council meeting.
But a Dickinson School of Law administrator said earlier Thursday that preliminary plans are still evolving.
"We haven’t come up with a final plan for Carlisle," said Nancy Lamont, assistant dean for administration.
She said preliminary plans were posted on the wall at Trickett Hall to allow people to offer comments and that the architects are considering those comments as the design progresses.
"We’re continuing to move forward, meet with the architects and review and revise plans," she said.
Lamont said she couldn’t offer a specific timetable on when the law school will apply for approval of the plans.
Meanwhile, Shunk told council the committee to save Trickett Hall has collected more than 2,500 signatures on petitions, many of which were collected last weekend during First Friday and the Amani Festival last weekend in downtown Carlisle.
She added that brochures produced for the upcoming Old Neighborhoods League house tour will include a mention of Trickett Hall, encouraging people to go see the building.
Friday, May 12, 2006
BY ELIZABETH GIBSON
Of Our Carlisle Bureau
CARLISLE - Preservationists yesterday asked Gov. Ed Rendell to persuade Penn State University to build a facility for The Dickinson School of Law that incorporates Trickett Hall.
They said plans to raze the 88-year-old building snub state and federal preservation goals.
More than 2,500 petition signers appear to agree.
Rendell was in Philadelphia yesterday and hadn't seen the Save Trickett Hall group's letter, petition and drawing of a proposed new facility, a spokeswoman for the governor said.
The sleek, steel structure in preliminary drawings clashes with the neighborhood, strays from state preservation goals and ignores Carlisle's White House designation as a Preserve America town, the group contends.
"We are passionate about our historic buildings," the preservationists stated in the letter to Rendell. Trickett "is the structure that is intimately connected with the tradition of Pennsylvania's oldest law school. It is part of the historic and architectural fabric of Carlisle. Its demolition would be an enormous loss to many."
Last night, the Carlisle Borough Council voted to ask Penn State to address concerns about Trickett.
"I honestly can't imagine anything else on that corner," said Linda Cecconello, council vice president.
Yet, some fear a fight to protect Trickett could bring a Penn State backlash, prompting the university to pull out of Carlisle.
Penn State President Graham Spanier said last night the university has and will continue to consider community input on a facility. And protests, although coming on the heels of a protracted struggle with Carlisle, won't shake the university's commitment to the town.
"This has indeed been a frustrating process, but our final decision will seek to be in the best interests of the law school, the university and the community," he said.
Penn State merged with the law school in 2000. A 2003 bid to move Dickinson to State College drew public fury. Now a sister school will be built there and the Carlisle school will be upgraded.
Save Trickett members said they feel duped as plans showed Trickett would be preserved. Bringing it down, "is a radical reversal ... without proper communication to the community," they said.
Their effort is gaining momentum. More than 2,500 have signed a petition and thousands have visited the www.savetricketthall.com Web site.
Dickinson College, which isn't affiliated with the law school, hasn't denounced Penn State's plan, but it posted Save Trickett petition information on its Web site until yesterday.
New facility plans would require borough approval, but a permit to raze Trickett would come from the state Labor and Industry office. Penn State hadn't sought a permit as of yesterday.
Save Trickett members hope there's still time to re-work the project.
They said the planned contemporary building would contradict a Pennsylvania Keystone Principles goal to rehabilitate historic buildings and neighborhoods.
And, they said, it would sully Carlisle's standing with Media and Montgomery County as the state's only Preserve America communities. Congress will spend up to $5 million this year on the program's preservation efforts.
Joe Elias contributed to this report. ELIZABETH GIBSON: 249-2006 or email@example.com
By Linda Franz, May 11, 2006
The Committee to Save Trickett Hall grilled a Carlisle employee about law school plans Wednesday and approved sending a three-page letter to Gov. Ed Rendell along with copies of Save Trickett Hall petitions signed by about 2,500 people.
Alycia Reiten, manager of planning, zoning and codes enforcement for the borough, told the committee Wednesday that no land development plan has been submitted so far for the proposed demolition of Trickett Hall and construction of a new facility at Penn State Dickinson School of Law’s South College Street site.
"Once the land development process is complete, they can go ahead and apply for demolition permits and building permits," she said.
The earliest demolition is likely to occur would be after borough council’s Aug. 10 meeting, Reiten said. But Penn State could potentially go through the state Department of Labor and Industry for demolition approval, she added.
The Penn State Board of Trustees has not yet approved design plans. The board may consider the plans as early as July, university spokesmen have said.
"When it comes down to the emotions of the neighbors and how it affects the community, that has no effect" on the borough’s decision to approve the land development plan, Reiten said.
And she told the dozen committee members to keep in mind that "everybody fought so hard" to keep the law school in Carlisle. With a fight over Trickett Hall, the law school "could pick up and leave."
Preliminary proposals for a new law school building are "stunningly inappropriate," downtown merchant Charles Andrews responded. "Council is worried about keeping the school here but at what price? It’s a historic town. That’s why we’re fighting this."
If the plan meets all of the requirements, council has no choice but to approve it, Reiten said, adding Penn State has "lot size enough to accommodate parking as required in the ordinance."
Trickett Hall is not in Carlisle’s historic district, is not a historic landmark and is not on any list to be included on the National Historic Register, she added.
Carlisle lawyer James Flower said if the law school submits a plan that doesn’t require a variance, the committee’s best bet is to persuade the governor and the Penn State trustees that Trickett Hall should be saved.
Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said this morning that when the letter reaches the governor’s desk, he will take a "comprehensive" look at it.
"The governor has not had an opportunity to review the facts and consequently even come close to making a decision," Ardo said.
When asked if Rendell has had any contact with Penn State to discuss the building proposal, Ardo said "not to my knowledge."
The committee plans to display at least one "Save Trickett Hall" banner this weekend while Penn State officials and others are in town for the law school ‘s graduation ceremonies.
Andrews suggested a yard sign campaign similar to the "Monster Warehouse" effort that was waged in South Middleton Township could be organized in the next few weeks.
"We’ve got to get this whole community behind us or it ain’t going to happen," Andrews said.
Trickett not up to council
By David Blymire, May 11, 2006
Members of Carlisle Borough Council say they’re sympathetic to the cause of preserving Trickett Hall.
But most polled Wednesday said the borough has only limited options to stop Penn State from demolishing the structure at South College and West South streets to make room for a modern-style building.
The panel has no authority to regulate the design of new structures, Council President Don Grell said. "There will be a lot of disappointment if Trickett Hall comes down, but in terms of specific legal powers, there are limits on what the borough can do," he said, adding he would rate Trickett Hall among the 10 "best-known" structures in the borough.
Council member Perry Heath said he will suggest that council authorize a letter asking Penn State to reconsider the modern design proposed to replace Trickett.
"If there’s anything Penn State can do to save Trickett Hall, they should do it," he said, adding he has a "great deal of sympathy for" what the preservationists are trying to accomplish..
Heath shares Grell’s view that borough council members "are not in a position to create any ordinances."
Councilman Frank Rankin supports Heath’s suggestion that the borough write Penn State a letter expressing the community’s concerns.
He said it was hard to miss people seeking signatures on save-Trickett petitions during downtown events Friday and Saturday.
"I certainly am looking forward to the days ahead and seeing if Penn State will cooperate and be receptive to council’s request," he said.
Councilman Doug Heineman said he would support the preservation effort only if Penn State agrees.
"If the dollars and cents can be arranged to save Trickett Hall where it makes sense for everybody, then I’m all for it," Heineman said. "But my primary objective is to keep the law school here."
Councilman Timothy Scott said he’s asked the law school to send representatives to tonight’s council meeting to answer questions about the building proposal.
"I find myself sympathetic (with the preservationists) to the extent that they feel Penn State seems to be ignoring them and they don’t have a voice in this whole matter," he said.
District to expand?
Councilman William Kronenberg expressed strong support for the preservation effort and added he would support measures to save Trickett from the wrecking ball.
That would include expanding the historic district to include the Dickinson School of Law campus, an idea suggested by some residents who want to save Trickett.
Other council members are much more cautious about that idea. Several suggested it would be spot zoning — singling out a particular property for special treatment.
Grell said borough staff is doing some initial research on the concept. But he and Scott both said there may not be enough time to expand the historic district, a lengthy, complex process, and Grell questions the fairness of such a change to the property owner, Penn State.
Council Vice President Linda Cecconello said the idea is "something I want to look further into."
She has many questions about its feasibility, including whether the historic district could be expanded down one side of the street and not the other. She wants to know whether other properties would have to be involved in the expansion and what the impact would be on those properties.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Save Trickett Hall's historical significance
Sunday, May 07, 2006
The greater Carlisle community is facing a challenging future if Penn State continues its stance at changing the character and important heritage of the Dickinson School of Law.
There was an architectural plan in 2005 to save Trickett Hall and add structures where the dormitories now stand.
For some reason, not fully explained to the public, that proposal was dropped and a very modern and out-of-place structure for this community was proposed.
No one knows for sure what it will look like, since the design is a deep dark secret. Even the model on display in the lobby of Trickett Hall is said to not be the design Penn State is planning. I wonder why it is even there for anyone to see who visits that part of the law school.
Wouldn't everyone think that this odd-looking design is what Penn State University President Graham Spanier and his cronies are planning?
There is a rumor that Penn State will pull out of the deal for two campuses if the controversy continues. I trust Gov. Ed Rendell to put together the language to prevent that from ever happening.
It is time for local and state officials, including the governor, to call a halt to the destruction of this famous structure and the law school itself.
-- WAYNE POWELL, Carlisle
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Of Our Carlisle Bureau
CARLISLE - Penn State University President Graham Spanier said that the effort to preserve Trickett Hall is misdirected and that the building has only limited historic significance.
He spelled it out in a rebuttal letter to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which asked Spanier to reconsider demolishing the 88-year-old home of The Dickinson School of Law.
"In truth, Trickett Hall has meaning for law school graduates and Carlisle residents precisely because it serves as the current home of The Dickinson School of Law, not because of its architectural or historic significance apart from the law school," Spanier wrote.
Spanier did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
But members of local historic preservation groups, who have formed the Save Trickett Hall committee, met last night and said Spanier is selling the building short.
"It's a treasured historic landmark in Carlisle ... a symbol of The Dickinson School of Law, the first law school in Pennsylvania," said Wendy Pires, who lives on South College Street near Trickett.
"A lot of people think this building is in bad shape. We have to put them straight," said Steven Smith, who appealed to the National Trust on behalf of the group.
Penn State has said it would cost more to renovate than tear down Trickett and build anew.
The wrecking ball, scheduled for this summer, will make way for a $50 million facility to open in 2008.
Donations of $15 million will help fund the project. Law school officials said up to $10 million of gifts will come from one donor who has insisted on a new building.
The donor likely will have his or her way, state officials learned earlier this week.
Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland, said she and Rep. Will Gabig, R-Carlisle, met Monday with law school Dean Philip McConnaughay.
"We both expressed our feelings about trying to have some semblance of Trickett remain," Vance said. "Renovating it is probably not feasible. I think the realism of it is, the people who are putting up the money think [the proposed replacement] is beautiful."
Carlisle fought off Penn State's 2003 proposal to move Dickinson to State College. Last year, Penn State promised to expand Trickett and build a second law campus in State College.
Outrage that Save Trickett members feel at losing the structure is apparently intensified by what they said is a general community reluctance to stand up to Penn State for fear the university will move the law school to State College.
They also said that many people are unaware that the proposed replacement is a startling contrast to Trickett and to the homes that surround it.
A letter from Adrian Fine, director of the National Trust's Northeast field office, asked Penn State to "encourage discussion about exploring options that might allow for the retention and integration of this important landmark into the new facility."
Jim Flower, a law school alumni and member of Save Trickett who lives near the school, said he wants discussions to start quickly.
"Once Trickett Hall is torn down, Dickinson Law will be gone, and all that will be left will be Penn State," he said.
ELIZABETH GIBSON: 249-2006 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Trickett Hall use to end by this fall
By David Blymire, April 4, 2006
Penn State Dickinson School of Law plans to move out of Trickett Hall this summer.
The school will start fall semester classes in the former United Telephone building in the 1100 block of Harrisburg Pike in Middlesex Township, Dean Philip McConnaughay says.
"A substantial part of the move will occur in early June," he says.
The proposed demolition of Trickett Hall and construction of a new facility at the South College Street site prompted the school to seek temporary quarters for law school classes.
The timetable for demolition and reconstruction is not yet clear. Penn State trustees have not yet approved plans for the new complex, though that could happen as early as July. Then the plans must go through the borough approval process.
Limited renovation expected
McConnaughay describes the Harrisburg Pike building — more recently home to Stoner Associates and Advantica — as an "elegantly remodeled" structure that doesn’t need substantial renovation to convert it from offices to classroom space.
"They did a substantial amount of work for different tenants over the years," he says. "It’s highly suitable as is."
However, Penn State will make the building more accessible and take down some walls to create useable classroom space, he says.
Advantica recently relocated its Carlisle-area office — one of the British-owned company’s two offices in North America — to new quarters in the 600 block of Bent Creek Boulevard in Silver Spring Township.
Middlesex officials last week cleared the way for Penn State to occupy the building.
Township supervisors amended an ordinance allowing colleges and post-secondary educational facilities in the commercial highway district, Zoning Officer Mark Carpenter says. Dormitory facilities will not be allowed, he adds.
Carpenter says law school officials have discussed their application for a building permit to complete the renovations.
Supervisor Victor Stabile previously called the law school’s use of the building a "win" for both sides. Supervisors don’t want the building to sit vacant for long and the school also gets the room it needs during its construction project.
Meanwhile, Dickinson law school alumni will be invited to a major event planned for the first week of June to mark the end of classes at Trickett Hall, McConnaughay says.
"We will be inviting people in to share with us the sad but celebratory moment of our departure," he says, adding it will also celebrate the future of the law school.
Residents who live near the law school will see students at the site through the middle of summer, as the school’s annual summer law scholar program will run from June 5 through July 15.
The special program gives up to 17 Penn State undergraduate students a chance to get their feet wet in a law school for six weeks each summer, says Director Gisine Brignola.
Looking further into the future, McConnaughay says the law school still needs to address long-term parking needs at the South College Street site.
Classes could return to the new facilities in the borough as early as the 2008-09 school year.
McConnaughay says officials would like to see a combination of offsite parking and "enforcement of parking controls near our site so we release the burden on our neighbors,"
He also predicts better days for residents who live near the law school.
"A lot of bad parking habits will be broken over the next couple of years," he says.