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Bunkhouse planned for visitors to Chatham University's Eden Hall campus

| Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, 11:21 a.m.
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A public hearing is set for Nov. 16 in the Richland Municipal Building on Chatham University’s plans to relocate a proposed 48-bed bunkhouse on the school’s Eden Hall campus. This is a rendering of what the building would look like.

A rustic, 48-bed bunkhouse is among the latest improvements planned on Chatham University's Eden Hall campus in Richland.

More can be learned about the proposed cottage during a public hearing before the township supervisors at 7 p.m. Nov. 16, in the Richland Municipal Building.

The university originally planned to construct the lodge with its own sewage treatment system near the northwest edge of Chatham's Eden Hall campus, but the state Department of Environmental Protection didn't approve that plan.

Chatham University now proposes to build the bunkhouse near the center of campus and treat the building's wastewater through Richland's public sewer system.

“The master plan had it situated in the northwest quadrant of the property. It was kind of in a remote spot,” said Chatham University spokesman Walter Fowler, vice president for finance and administration.

“The original plan was to make that a Living Building Challenge certified building,” Fowler said, referring to an international sustainable building certification program created in 2006 by the International Living Future Institute.

After DEP declined to approve the on-lot sanitary system, “The alternative, then, was to hook this thing into the public sewer system,” Fowler said. “Basically, 2,500 feet of sewer line would have had to been laid, which was just cost prohibitive.”

Chatham opted to relocate, and put the proposed bunkhouse on the west side of Ridge Road, “kind of in the woods,” Fowler said, and opposite the school's new circular, drop-off parking lot.

“Sewage disposal is what drove their decision to do it,” said Scott Shoup of Shoup Engineering, engineer for Richland.

Chatham plans to use the bunkhouse for weekend visits by a variety of groups.

“It's designed for really short stays,” Fowler said. “It can be used by a lot of different people for different circumstances, but one of the prime ones is to allow K-through-12 students from urban areas to come out and spend an overnight, or a couple overnights.”

The proposed bunkhouse will accommodate six to eight guests per room, and incorporate a geothermal heating and cooling system, Fowler said.

“There's no kitchen. There's no recreation area,” Fowler said. “It'll have solar panels on the roof. The exterior of the building will be rustic.”

Fowler said a Heinz Foundation grant will cover the cost of building the approximately 3,800-square-foot bunkhouse.

Fowler expects construction to start next spring if Richland supervisors approve plans for the building.

Deborah Deasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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