LOWELL | If two recent public input sessions are any indication, Lowell residents are excited about the prospects of the planned Tri-Creek Learning Center.
The estimated $11.8 million project that will bring Ivy Tech to town.
The building will house Ivy Tech classrooms, class space for other postsecondary institutions, professional development space for Tri-Creek faculty and more.
One innovation is classroom space for Lowell High School students taking dual credit courses. After passing the Ivy Tech admissions test, students will complete college coursework during their school day.
A day care space to be included at the center for staff and the community also will serve as a learning space for Lowell High students interested in careers in early childhood development.
The gymnasium will host large group instruction and meet community recreational needs.
The Tri-Creek Learning Center will be on the site of the former Lowell Middle School, across from Tri-Creek administrative offices. It is expected to be completed in time for the 2013-14 school year.
"It's awesome. It's a great opportunity for the town to grow," said Maria Finger, who has a sixth-grader and incoming freshman, said.
"My son wants to go to med school. I wanted to be sure the dual credits and doubling up make sense for him," she added of her questions on free tuition for Lowell High students in such programs.
The project was laid out by Superintendent Debra Howe and Jeff Olson of CSO Architects, Indianapolis. Rod Wilson of City Securities, Fort Wayne, explained the financials, emphasizing the project will not increase taxes, but slightly decrease the amount of tax reduction that taxpayers would have realized.
Howe said Ivy Tech will pay to lease space in the center which will cover much of the operation and maintenance costs.
Ivy Tech Community College Chancellor David Bathe said that, while Ivy Tech has similar projects in three communities, "The demonstration of enthusiasm here is at a level we haven't had at other communities."
Tri-Creek Superintendent Debra Howe said Ivy Tech's vision "matches up with us very well."
Ivy Tech's presence will mean more than education for the community, Bathe said
"We are a key source of economic development," he said. Companies planning to establish themselves, relocate or expand, are attracted to Ivy Tech communities.
"Business knows we're training people for the skills they need," Bathe said.