The consultants said they are not recommending acquiring Rainbow Terrace, or any other nearby property, just telling the university to “think about it.”
As for more residence halls, Salem State currently is working on plans for a dorm to house 300-350 students. The two tentative sites for that building are the campus police station on the central campus and the parking lot next to Peabody Hall.
But the dorm plans don’t stop there. The college repeatedly has said its goal is to build enough housing for 50 percent of its undergraduates. Currently, almost 2,000 students live on campus and the plan is to increase that number to 3,500, which could mean several more buildings.
However, Bower noted that while demand for college housing is strong now the situation could change in the future.
Another “opportunity site” is across the street — the 4-acre Weir site, which currently is used for offices, shipping and receiving, and storing books for the new library. It was described as a site with strong potential for larger buildings with multiple uses.
The consultants noted that Salem State is approaching its parking limits.
“In an urban context, that often can mean a parking structure, and that’s something we’re looking at,” Patrick said.
After hearing the “conceptual” plans, several neighbors expressed strong concerns.
“It looks like you’re going out rather than looking in,” David Coleman said. “You’re encroaching on the neighborhoods.”
“Does (the university) have to keep growing?” Jack Hoar asked. “You keep making things bigger and better to attract more students and you don’t have space to handle it.”
“I have no problem with kids living on campus. ... It makes it easier for them,” neighbor Stephanie Eugenio said. “But it makes it harder for people who live here.”
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.