This is a picture of the master plan approved by the EG Planning Board in 2011. Markings added by EG News indicate the existing building and the site of the proposed dormitory.
New England Tech, which opened its East Greenwich campus in 2011, is on the verve of taking the next step – adding a residence hall for 400 students. Representatives from the school previewed their plans before the Planning Board at its meeting Wednesday, May 7, with the goal of submitting a formal building application within a couple months.
The idea of dorms at NEIT is not new. It is one of the reasons behind the college’s decision to move its main campus to Division Road. The school plans to expand its dining area in the main building first, which would entail an addition, then tackle the dorm, which would sit behind the main building, separated by a parking lot. A wide pathway across the parking lot would be constructed to connect the two buildings.
Joe DeAngelis, a board member for NEIT and a lawyer, told the Planning Board this was a continuation of plans initially presented to the town in 2011 (see the illustration from 2011 attached here).
In 2011, DeAngelis said sports facilities would be built first and dorms after that, five years out. If the dorm does open in 2017, DeAngelis would only be off by a year on that prediction, but sport fields have not yet been built. After the May 7 meeting, DeAngelis said the school would be building sports fields simultaneously with the dorms.
“I can’t tell you when,” he said. “I can tell you that in 2017, we’re going to have to provide activities. Once you have the residents, you need that. Some time between now and then, we’re going to be taking a very good and hard look at construction of soccer fields and things like that.”
Currently, there are 2,938 students at New England Tech. While the EG campus is by far the largest, students do take classes at two facilities at Warwick also.
“We’re at the same exact number of students today as we were three years ago,” said Phil Parsons, NEIT general counsel. He said there was a dip in enrollment between 2011 and today but numbers had rebounded. When asked if they thought the dorm would mean a boost in enrollment, DeAngelis said it was unclear.
“The college is hopeful that 400 new students will come to the campus. We don’t expect that to happen,” he said. “Before we embarked on this, we did a study to determine if there was a need and there clearly is. There are some parents whose children would want to go to this institution to get the type of education we provide but they’re not going to let their children go live in an apartment off campus.”
Officials showed diagrams of sightlines from various angles once the dormitory is built, including South County Trail and Division Road. They did not have a diagram for the sightline from the Taylor Pointe condominiums just west of the campus – the closest residential area to the school. They said that was because the trees between Taylor Pointe and NEIT would completely block the view from the condos to the campus.
Planning Board member Chuck Newton asked about how the new construction would affect parking at the campus.
“Right now, there are 950 parking spaces, and that is an adequate amount of parking,” said Nicole Reilly with DiPrete Engineering. Building the dormitory will cost only a few dozen spaces, she said, but the dining hall expansion will require the school to build an additional parking lot on the property.
“The last thing we want is for the college to not have enough parking,” said Reilly.
NEIT anticipates adding a dorm will ease traffic in the area, since those students will not be driving to and from the campus daily.
DeAngelis said he met with Town Manager Tom Coyle every two weeks to discuss how things are going.
“We’re trying to keep our ear to the ground to find out if there are any complaints, he said. “When this process reaches the stage when it goes out to public hearing, we again will seek opinions from people. We expect there will be some from the Taylor Pointe section that may have some issues, as they did the last time around. We’re not aware of any complaints from the community other than Taylor Pointe.”