On Friday, Sept. 13, students, faculty and staff gathered outside of Pioneer Village, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally welcome the new residence hall.
Pioneer Village was a $14 million-dollar project between BBL Construction Services, Utica College and the Municipal Housing Authority. The residence hall houses exactly 144 students, and required a different housing selection. Units include four single rooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, a living room and a washer and dryer. The units are also gender inclusive and are mostly open to juniors, seniors and graduate students.
Speakers at the ceremony included Senior Vice President Jeffery Gates, President Laura Casamento, SGA president Michael Delia ‘20, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, BBL Construction Services CFO Steve Obermayer, and Utica Municipal Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Calli.
Gates began the ceremony by welcoming everyone.
“This is certainly a long time coming and a moment we are excited for,” Gates said. “It certainly takes a village, a Pioneer Village.
Casemento reflected on the ground breaking for Pioneer Village that occurred last fall. She said the three buildings that make up Pioneer Village represent the partnership between the college, the Utica Municipal Housing Authority and BBL Construction Services.
“This collaboration has allowed the college to achieve several goals,” Casamento said. “It’s provided the college with an incredible tool of improvement since the quality of the student living experience is a vital component to the success of our students.”
In addition, Casamento said now the college can accommodate an additional 144 students that can live on campus and keep their eyes on the dome during the winter months. She also said that she has received nothing but positive feedback from students about Pioneer Village.
“Those of you who have been inside the apartments, especially the students that live here, you know I was not exaggerating,” Casamento said. “The facility is absolutely beautiful inside and out, and I’ve heard from many students that they were absolutely blown away on move-in day.”
Casamento said Pioneer Village represents a new era for student housing at the college.
Senior Delanna Richardson was at the ceremony because she lives in Building B of Pioneer Village. Richardson applauded the new residence hall as it has given her a sense of independence.
“You do not have to wait on a whole floor to get your laundry done or your work done,” Delanna Richardson said. “You can have company over at any hour and there is also no RA’s waiting for you in the front.”
Delanna Richardson described the walk to be a negative, but not too horrible.
“Someone living in Bell probably does not have to rush as much to get to campus, verses myself or my roommates,” Delanna Richardson said.
However, she did describe the new residence hall to be an upgrade from her past living arrangements.
“I don’t think the cost is affordable, but I lowered my meal plan and it equaled the same amount to living on campus with a platinum meal plan,” Delanna Richardson said. “It’s expensive still, but it’s definitely worth the penny and the sense of independence.”
First-year student Suedene Richardson also lives in Pioneer Village and attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. However, she is a little bit older than the majority of the first-year students, hence why she is in Pioneer Village. While looking at colleges Suedene Richardson thought she would be crammed into the same room with two other roommates, however, this was not the case.
“When I visited Utica College, I saw this building,” Suedene Richardson said. “Since living here, things turned around with the space.”
Before coming to UC, Suedene Richardson never thought she would live on a campus. She was renting a space in Queens and pointed out it was the same price as paying for a spot in Pioneer Village.
“I also love to cook,” Suedene Richardson said. “So being in a room with a private kitchen, really was a plus.”
Senior Kassidy Krenzer took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony and also lives in the “show room,” that prospective students and families see when they visit campus.
Krenzer said she wanted to spend her final year living in Pioneer Village. She found a group made up of some of her sorority sisters and her friends. She said they are all getting along.
“I like that it’s a little bit secluded and that I have a full-size bed and my own room, but I still get to live with my friends, and the bonus perk, is the laundry room,” Krenzer said. “We are getting a lot of other amenities too.”
Krenzer said since she and her roommates live in the show room, one of them has to leave their door open at certain times of the day.
“Overall, it’s a good price for what we get,” Krenzer said. “We’re living there, and we want other people to be excited about living their too.”
Area Coordinator Matthew Vincent is in charge of Pioneer Village and was also in attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
He said the point of Pioneer Village was to provide more options for students in the housing process.
“Everyone loves the brand new shiny things, and when RA’s are doing their rounds, I’ve heard some positive feedback,” Vincent said. “One of the unique things about Pioneer Village, is that there’s separate wi-fi from campus, so everyone has their own individual log-ins and passwords.”
Vincent said the process was a hurdle, but right now, they are just waiting on the cable.
“I do remember that when we were advertising, Pioneer Village, along with the lowest meal plan offered, is cheaper than a single in Boehlert and the highest meal plan,” Vincent said. “Also, Pioneer Village is brand new and it’s really exciting to be the area coordinator responsible for making sure it has a great year.”