SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT: BC upgrades parking lot, security, and ‘curb appeal’

By Noell Barnidge
For those who will arrive at Benedictine Military School for Registration Day on Aug. 1, if you’ve never visited campus or haven’t been here since graduation May 15, you will notice a massive reconstruction to our parking lot.

What is transpiring here at 6502 Seawright Drive is amazing. As part of the Forward, Always Forward Capital Campaign, BC’s parking lot is in the process of increasing from 210 spaces to 444. Added security is being established via fencing, as well as a guard house at the entrance, and beautiful brick columns are sprucing up Ol’ BC’s curb appeal.

“We’ve been waiting for this for years,” Benedictine Military School Headmaster Fr. Frank Ziemkiewicz, O.S.B., said. “And I’ve got so many people to thank, so many people to thank. It just wouldn’t have happened without them. It was no secret to anyone that space was a premium around here. In fact, we just didn’t have enough. The fact that we had to park our students in unpaved areas highlighted that concern.”

Benedictine Military School began in 1902. The school was located on Bull Street and 34th Street from September 1904 until June 1963, when it relocated to Seawright Drive.

“It’s amazing to see the transformation that has taken place on campus over the last several years,” BC Director of Advancement Greg Markiton ’92 said. “Finally, the first impression when you drive on campus will match the reputation of Benedictine. We are incredibly blessed by the generous support of so many members of the Benedictine family who have elevated the school for this and future generations.”

In addition to expanding parking, Ziemkiewicz said BC also desired to increase “the curb appeal, the aesthetics, of the campus. This is the first view of BC that many people will see as they drive on Seawright. They now have an aesthetically attractive area that considerably enhances security, and just in general much better accommodates the needs for our athletic teams when they have multiple events here on campus, and, for that matter, any other time when we have significant events.

“The hope is to avoid people having to park along Seawright Drive,” Ziemkiewicz continued. “That’s a safety issue there. A lot of people put a lot of time in, particularly Pat Shay, our architect from Gunn Meyerhoff Shay; Michael Roach, our civil engineer from Thomas & Hutton, Vincent Ferraro ’76 and Matthew Shay ’10, our general contractors from Mahany Construction, and Jason Dunn, our site work firm from Marsh Construction. Nino Aliotta ’83 with OECI Electrical and Scott Moore ’80 with Phillips Paving have also done great work. This team has moved quickly and really optimized the space. And when I say that, those brick pavers that you see in the parking area, what they’ll do is they’ll allow water to percolate through them, eliminating the need for us to create a retention pond. And that’s going to save a lot of space.”

In the past, excessive rain and poor drainage would result in what many affectionately called “Lake BC” and eliminate entire rows of parking spaces.

“The rains were definitely problematic,” Ziemkiewicz said. “Hopefully, this will solve that problem. Again, some very, very clever architecture and engineering went into that concern. In general, I think it will be a very good opening door to the campus. I think people will like what they see, and I think they will take a lot of pride in it.”

Ziemkiewicz said the plan is to have the entire project completed by Christmas.

“The last thing that will be put up are the (permanent) lights,” he said. “We’ll have construction lights there in the meantime. (The workers have) been busy since Eastertime. They were working on the Fourth of July, to give you some idea of the intensity that the contractor, Vince Ferraro and Mahany Construction, have put into this. The balance of the lots will be done over the course of the next two months. By the end of September, we expect to have all of the parking places filled out. But, due to supply chain issues, various things such as the lights will need to wait until later on in the semester.”

Ziemkiewicz said the list of people who made this endeavor possible is extensive.

“I also have so many people to thank for some really imaginative ideas,” he said. “The configuration of the gates leading to the campus, and at the exterior also, and the bricking of the façade walls on the east end of the parking lot, that was (BC Director of Operations and Finance) Barbara Evans’ idea. A lot of the signage going around, to include the entrance, that was (BC Director of Advancement) Greg Markiton’s idea. In terms of security issues, (BC Assistant Principal) Kevin Farmer was so much involved in that. He and (BC Principal Dr.) Jacob (Horne) just really put their heads together and collaborated well in terms of what is optimal with the resources that we have available to us. Again, our architect, Pat Shay, our civil engineer, Mike Roach, and Vince Ferraro and Mahany Construction, our Barb, Greg, Jacob, and Kevin, were just instrumental in making this thing. And (BC Chef) Vince Freyne was instrumental in our configuring for the delivery space for the cafeteria. And (BC Athletic Director) Jack (Holland) was always in the forefront talking about accessibility to the playing areas. A lot of people. It was very much a team effort.”