Plans for constructing a nursing building at the University College of the Cayman Islands have been delayed due to a planned road widening that will take away space needed for student parking.
UCCI established a bachelor’s degree nursing program five years ago and is preparing to graduate its second class of nurses. Officials had expected to break ground on a dedicated building for the program by the end of the calendar year. That now looks unlikely.
Anthony Ritch, chairman of the college’s board of governors, said he was told by a representative of the National Roads Authority two months ago that it had raised concerns about the planned building. The NRA has plans of its own to widen Olympic Avenue, the street that separates UCCI from the new John Gray High School, which is still under construction. The widening is reportedly necessary to accommodate more traffic flow once the high school is opened.
“The NRA came along and said, ‘We have a road to widen and we’re going to have to take some parking spots,’” Mr. Ritch told a meeting of the UCCI board on Wednesday, adding that no formal discussion or notification on the plans had taken place. “I guess it’s all government land and they’re letting us know they’re taking a little bit more of it.”
The original plans for the nursing building were denied by the Central Planning Authority because they did not provide for adequate parking. UCCI’s architects had modified the building plans to provide for additional parking and were ready to resubmit them. But with the announcement of the road widening, which could eliminate as many as a dozen parking spots, UCCI officials deemed it unlikely that the modified plans would be approved. Board member Tom Simpson said there should be some accommodation for the loss of space.
“Forget the nursing building, that impacts our regular programs,” Mr. Simpson said.
He suggested that if the government was taking some of the school’s property at its entrance, it should allow the campus to expand onto other adjacent land.
“There ought to be some discussion of what is your idea of expanding this campus to accommodate the nursing building?” he said.
Mr. Ritch said he hoped to bring the issue up with Ministry of Education officials at a meeting he is attempting to arrange with them in July. UCCI officials have complained in the past about the amount of access they have to ministry officials.
In the meantime, he said, the construction schedule for the nursing building will be pushed down the road.
“I’d love to see us have a set of approved plans by the end of the year, so we can break ground next year,” Mr. Ritch said.
He added that there may be a silver lining to the situation. The $1 million apportioned by the government for the nursing building will be returned to the general fund if it is not spent by the end of the year, Mr. Ritch said. He and other board members are hoping to gain approval to use some of the money for facility repairs on the campus. Several of the campus’ buildings have problems with leaking roofs and there is concern about whether some meet structural standards.
“The president has reached out to do some surveys to look at our roofing structures,” Mr. Ritch said.
He said he believes such work is justified and that using some of the funding now will not mean less money for the nursing building in the future.
“I’m satisfied we can demonstrate we’re more than just good custodians, and we deserve to have government provide the money we need,” he said.