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Needs of college assessed

LAWRENCEVILLE - Now that Gwinnett has a college, it needs new roads and maybe a parking deck, officials say.

But they aren't sure exactly what the new four-year college will require.

Chairman Charles Bannister last week said officials should consider a moratorium on development in the area until they have a more accurate picture.

Georgia Gwinnett College President Dan Kaufman said he is working on a master plan for the 170-acre Lawrenceville campus, which will accept students beginning this fall.

By 2010, the college is expected to have an enrollment of between 8,000 and 10,000 students.

"We're trying to do our due diligence," he said.

Kaufman said he drives by a "For Sale" sign when he comes to the current Gwinnett University Center campus every day. The vacant lot, he said, would be a "natural" acquisition for the college.

"One of the first things we've done here is talk about our property and our boundaries," he said.

A moratorium is one way the development in the area could be delayed until the college's plans and funding are finalized, he said. "I'm not prepared to recommend such a thing. We've got some other options," Kaufman said.

Another possibility already in the works is to start a foundation for the college, which may be able to lease land that becomes available, he said.

Since state regents chose Lawrenceville as the site of Georgia's first new four-year college in 30 years, Bannister has been working on improvements.

He lobbied the governor earlier this year for help with connections to Georgia Gwinnett College and money for its operations.

While the current toll proposal to upgrade Ga. Highway 316 is still in limbo, officials have plans to upgrade the intersections of Collins Hill Road and Ga. Highway 20 to interstate-quality overpasses in 2009.

Transportation Director Brian Allen said he wants to get the construction moved up to 2007, even if that means waiting to extend high occupancy vehicle lanes along the highway.

They are also interested in connecting Collins Industrial Way to Walther Boulevard to provide another route to the university.

Although the Gwinnett University Center is already flanked by a gym and a car dealership on one side, some of the land remains undisturbed. The Collins Hill area is mostly developed with suburban neighborhoods.

Kaufman said he's working on the college plans first in terms of academic buildings, offices and libraries and then with parking, lights, walkways and other extras.

"We've got a lovely 170 acres of woods. We have to decide what to do with it," he said.

Bannister said he is waiting to hear from Kaufman to decide the next route to take.

"It's a commuter college as it's set today, but a commuter college needs parking spaces," he said, noting the possibility of a parking deck. Other possibilities such as student housing, pedestrian walkways and parks have not yet been discussed, he said.

"It's a good time to step back and see what all we will be facing," Bannister said.

"We won't do anything unless the college is in favor of it," he said. "A moratorium might not be necessary."