The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 15, 2011

UPJ nursing building could open in 2013

Ryan Brown
For The Tribune-Democrat

— Pitt-Johnstown’s $10 million nursing-classroom building is expected to break ground early next year – about a year later than initially planned.

Architectural designs are complete, and Pitt administrators are set to accept bids from construction firms before the year’s end, according to Steve Szczepanski, an architect with the Pittsburgh-based firm MacLachlan, Cornelius and Filoni.

The building also will be home to advanced chemistry and biology facilities.

“We’re in the lull period,” Szczepanski said, adding that a definitive estimate can’t be made on construction time until a bidder is selected.

Administrators originally had said construction for the 25,000-square-foot nursing center would begin by this April.

UPJ spokesman Bob Knipple foresees a spring 2013 opening.

“(April) was really just a fluid date,” Knipple said.

“It’s really not far away at all.”

Knipple said a clearer picture of the nursing-building plan may be available next month.

With Pitt-Johnstown’s nursing bachelor’s degree program now approaching its fourth year and set to grow to nearly 160 students next fall, alternative class space may be developed before the building is completed.

“There will be a need for additional classroom space next year,” Nursing Division Chairwoman Janet Grady said. “But the needs will be minimal and will not have a big impact.”

For now, high-tech nursing facilities and instructors’ offices are housed at a temporary location in another academic building, while additional science classes are held throughout the campus.

“Once the new building is completed, the entire nursing department will be moved,” Grady said.

Knipple also said construction of the John P. Murtha Center for Public Service has been delayed.

The John P. Murtha Foundation, a nonprofit organization chaired by the congressman’s widow, Joyce Murtha, was established to raise money for the building.

The state last year pledged $10 million toward its construction, while lawmakers attempted to secure $10 million more in federal funding.

Announced in April 2010, two months after the congressman’s death, the building is to include conference rooms and a museum containing the late congressman’s public papers.

“At this point it’s not an official building project,” Knipple said.

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