Campus Police Move Sparks Renovations on Campus

By Allana Ansbro, contributor
Returning students and staff discovered that UNC Asheville’s campus police moved from Vance Hall to Weizenblatt Hall this semester.
“This has been a process that started about three years ago,” said Eric Boyce, assistant vice chancellor for public safety.
Boyce, active in law enforcement for 22 years, said he became the assistant vice chancellor for public safety at UNC Asheville in 2010.
“Sometime prior to 2013, a student fee was approved for Student Health Services and Safety and that money was used to purchase what was previously called the MAHEC building,”  said David Todd, director of campus operations of 14 years.
In July 2013, the campus purchased and renovated the Mountain Area Health Education Center building. Student Health Services and Alumni Development then moved from Weizenblatt into the MAHEC building in January 2014, Todd said.
According to Boyce, Weizenblatt remained vacant for a year and a half before renovations began. Renovations included new flooring, carpets and resizing rooms.
One of the main reasons behind the move was to allow the campus police to become accredited, Todd said.
“All the examination spaces, when it was previously health services, had restrooms. We changed those around and did some things to the mechanical systems in the building,” Todd said.
Todd said the renovated facility includes a new equipment room, locker room, break room, officer workspace, dispatcher break room, handicap bathroom and telecommunications office. The renovations costed around $380,000.
“We gave it what we would call kind of a facelift,” Todd said.
According to Boyce, Weizenblatt is a huge improvement compared to Vance Hall. He said it allowed them to almost double in square footage.
“We’ve received positive reactions from the community,” Boyce said. “We’re excited to be here.”
Four divisions now work from Weizenblatt, including the university police, environmental health and safety, parking and transportation and emergency services, Boyce said.
“This move has enabled us to work out of the same office space,” Boyce said.
The unoccupied, Vance Hall building will undergo some minor renovations in the summer, Todd said. Renovations include new carpet and paint and may include relocating a couple of walls.
“Anytime we do a renovation like this, we work with the department and help them program the space, which is kinda deciding how you’re gonna use the space, what your different needs and uses are and then we handle all the contracting and financial aspects of the project,” Todd said.
IT services will occupy Vance Hall upon completion of renovations in August 2016, Todd said.
Until renovations start, mechatronics students plan to use Vance Hall this semester and next as a project workspace, Todd said.
According to Todd, the move had many benefits and was a good thing for campus police. It also allowed Health Services and alumni development to expand and opened more space for IT.
“I definitely think it’s been an improvement because now with that location being there they have their own designated parking lot area. It’s also a little bit more secluded,” said Anna Emslie, a sophomore political science student from Carrboro.
Emslie works on campus as a resident assistant and said she is glad to have the police on campus.
“One of my residents came back really late and she was able to call and get someone to escort her back to campus,” Emslie said. “Little things like that really can make a difference for someone and make them feel a lot safer.”