Itasca breaks ground on renovation

Today’s event is ceremonial, but actual construction will begin in April 2013.

Rebecca Harrington

 

Though the real construction won’t begin until April, the College of Biological Sciences’ Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories ceremonial groundbreaking is planned for Friday evening.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, legislators and CBS faculty and alumni will attend a retreat at the station to celebrate the project, go to classes and experience the station.

The college had tried for three years to get the $4.1 million from the state to replace some of its aging buildings with new ones, including a 13,700 square-foot campus center.

As large-scale University funding generally works, the Legislature gave a third, the University gave a third and CBS was responsible with the final third.

CBS Dean Robert Elde said he was grateful to the University and Legislature for paying their shares, but that without donors, this project would not have been possible.

The retreat will last the entire weekend and will be similar to the alumni weekend Elde said the college hosts at Itasca every year.

During the summer, the station hosts field biology courses and the Nature of Life program that all CBS freshmen attend.

With the renovations, the station will be able to host classes in the winter. The current buildings would cost too much to heat since most of them were built in the 1940s and 1950s.

Elde said he was excited to see this project finally begin.

“Itasca has needed this attention for a long time and, finally, we’re making real progress,” he said.