Rice Creek to get makeover

SUNY Oswego’s biological field station at Rice Creek, south of the main campus, will undergo a $1.75 million to $2 million redevelopment as part of the rebirth of science facilities at the college.

Conceptual drawing of Rice Creek Field Station renovation.

Conceptual drawing of Rice Creek Field Station renovation.

“Rice Creek is a gem for this whole region,” said Tom Simmonds ’84, M ’88, associate vice president for facilities. “We want to enhance it, sensitively and with respect for the environment.”

The college broke ground Sept. 17 for the $118 million reconstruction and expansion of Piez Hall, the 48-year-old science building on the east end of the main campus. Rice Creek, Simmonds said, is included in the overall science renovation plans.

He said plans for the 44-year-old wood-frame building that houses the
laboratory, classrooms and offices of the field station on Thompson Road near Fallbrook Recreation Center, are about halfway complete. He emphasized that drawings, at this stage, are conceptual. As it stands, little of the current structure would remain, and reconstruction and an addition would provide about one-third more space, he said.

Some refining still needs to be done, he said, including a proposal to build an observatory at Rice Creek to replace the aging structure adjacent to the Romney Field House parking lot. The proposed observatory would expand program offerings at Rice Creek as a complement to the station’s primary biological and environmental focus, he added.

When the work on the field station begins, the building would need to be offline for about a year, Simmonds said. Community and campus programs utilizing Rice Creek’s trail system and other land among its approximately 400 acres would go on as construction permits. The trails are in for some new, information-rich signage as part of the project, he said.

In addition to serving as a living laboratory for the college’s science programs, Rice Creek Field Station regularly conducts nature education workshops and activities for the community. Each year, hundreds of schoolchildren, senior citizens and other members of the general public participate in such programs, while thousands more use the trails. Under a grant from the Natural Heritage Trust, the station is open free to the public on Saturdays as well as weekdays.

— Jeff Rea ’71

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