By Ian Flores
Pulse Staff Reporter
Palo Alto College began with 231 students in 1985 in high school and military installations in South San Antonio. Today, we have an enrollment of over 9,000 students with continued growth predicted for the future.
Palo Alto is a college on the rise, not only here in San Antonio, but all of Texas. With growth comes the need for expansion and change, and construction is something that Palo Alto will be experiencing for the foreseeable future.
“The recent Alamo Colleges’ bond package that was passed in May will lead to $66 million to help prepare Palo Alto for its master plan of ensuring a campus that is not only great for its students and staff but also for the community,” said Dr. Mike Flores, Palo Alto College president.
Future projects include a community garden and orchard within the next year. The garden will have a bio soil system that will reuse runoff water and filter it out for the garden. We will also see a new 70,000 square foot Manufacturing Center and Public Service Building that will provide manufacturing workshops for future students.
The Student Engagement and Welcome Center will be a one-stop resource for all new students joining Palo Alto, and it will also house many student services for current and future students.
Improvements that we can expect to see will be a new roof for the gym, as well as new classrooms and offices for the Physical Education faculty and staff. The Brazos Building will also experience renovations, including new Science Labs for students.
The biggest renovation project will be a joint effort between Palo Alto College and the City of San Antonio for the Natatorium. It will undergo an $11 million renovation with $5.3 million coming as part of the city bond also recently passed. Locker rooms and new pool equipment will be a major part of the renovation effort.
One topic that many students have expressed an interest in is the parking situation. It has become very hectic to look for parking to make it to classes on time, especially during the morning.
Sarah Freeman, Palo Alto College sophomore, said, “I feel unsafe when crossing the busy street out of fear someone will not stop for the crosswalk.”
Flores said that future plans are for a more circular parking setup, outside lots surrounding the campus, in hopes of making it more convenient and safer for students. Plans also include the closing of San Jose Street, which runs through the middle of campus. It will instead be a gathering space for students with plans for a pedestrian mall alongside the former street.
The key to the past, present and future of Palo Alto College is always “ensuring a good student experience for all of our students,” said Flores.
Not everyone believes bricks and mortar are the way to proceed. History Professor Peter Myers said Palo Alto needs to be more accessible to students via more online classes and rural Wi-Fi.
“If we want to become the heart of the community, we have to expand into the community,” Myers said.