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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Jewish Center receives large donation

The family of Steven Roth '62, a New York City real estate developer, recently pledged to fund much of the College's proposed $3-million Center for Jewish Life, which is slated for construction in spring 1996.

The family will now have the option to name the facility, which will be built in an empty lot on Occom Ridge Road near Delta Delta Delta sorority. The 11,000 square-foot structure will replace the current home of Hillel on Summer Street near Hanover High School. Hillel is the College's Jewish students' organization.

According to Jack DeGange, the director of development communications, "gifts and pledges to date are in excess of $2 million."

DeGange said construction will begin once the final $1 million is raised. He said he hopes construction can begin during the spring as scheduled.

Assistant Director of Facilities Planning Reed Bergwall declined to reveal the size of the family's contribution or say whether the facility will be named after the family.

Donors contributing more than 50 percent of a building's total cost are usually given the option to name the facility, Director of Facilities Planning Gordie DeWitt told The Dartmouth in a previous interview.

Roth's daughter, Amanda, graduated from the College in 1993. The Roth family was unavailable for comment.

The facility is being designed by New York City architects Kliment and Halsband, who were in charge of building the computer science department's Sudikoff Laboratory.

Bergwall said the Center will cost $800,000 more than originally intended, in part because of delays and design changes prompted by local resistance to the building's Occom Ridge location.

The proposed center has been controversial since late 1993 when residents of Occom Ridge submitted a petition to President James Freedman and the College's Board of Trustees expressing concern about "parking size and placement, traffic access and safety, scope of services and size-design of building."

The neighbors failed to thwart the College's attempts to gain site-plan and zoning permits from the town of Hanover last winter. The Office of Facilities Planning has addressed the residents' complaints by modifying and reducing the plans for the center while expanding the adjacent parking lot. "The changes added somewhere in the order of $200,000," Bergwall said.

"About 12 percent of that was inflation" that occurred during the delay, he said. "Ten to 20 percent of the cost increase was due to the extended permitting process."

Randall Mudge, the Hanover architect in charge of the proposal's paperwork, said the College had to hire extra consultants, like traffic analysts, to deal with residents' complaints.

Karl Lehrke, the project architect, said the redesigned facility will be "a happy neighbor with the surrounding houses."

The original proposal was for a three-story building, but the building was scaled back to two stories, one of which will be below ground.

Bergwall said "the basic shape of the building has not changed, but the controversial higher portion of the building closest to the street has been reduced to a much more residential scale roof."

Trix Officer, the president of the Occom Pond Neighborhood Preservation Association, said she and her neighbors are not bitter.

The association has vehemently opposed the Center's location beside Tri-Delta. "Everything has been settled, and it is under way," she said. We had some serious concerns ... but it is over."