With fundraising now complete, Millbrook Marsh Nature Center is moving forward with the phase 2 renovation and expansion of the Spring Creek Education Building, Centre Region Parks and Recreation announced this week.
Construction for the $2 million project, which will more than double the size of the existing facility with an additional 2,600 square feet, is expected to begin in 2022.
Funding for the expansion is supported by community gifts, the Hamer Foundation and grants from two state agencies, College, Ferguson, Harris, and Patton townships and State College Borough.
“We are overflowing with gratitude for the support provided by our community, The Hamer Foundation, local municipalities and state agencies that makes this project possible,” Melissa Kauffman, nature center supervisor, said in a statement.
The first phase of the Spring Creek Education Building was completed in 2011 and efforts toward the second phase began in 2016.
Phase 2 will include the Donald Hamer Community Room and Visitors Center, two additional classrooms that open to the nearby aquatic ecosystem, conversion of the existing lower classroom into a multipurpose public programming space and two additional restrooms.
“The Donald Hamer Visitors Center with a greeter, hands-on interpretive displays, and wildlife viewing areas will enhance the visitor experience and provide important resources such as maps, field guides, and program and event information,” said Kauffman.
Hamer Foundation founder Donald Hamer, a Bellefonte resident who died in 2016, and former foundation trustee Diane Kerly, a State College resident who passed away earlier this year, were both strong supporters of conservation and environmental education.
“Millbrook Marsh Nature Center was a special place to Don and Diane, and we are really pleased to support this effort,” Hamer Foundation Trustee Pat Morse said.
The Spring Creek Education Building was constructed to provide more programming, event and rental space year-round at the 62-acre Nature Center, which consists of a 12-acre farmstead and adjacent 50-acre wetland off of Puddintown Road in College Township.
As the popularity of Millbrook Marsh has increased, the education building is regularly operating at capacity.
“Completing the Phase 2 construction of the Spring Creek Education Building will expand education and recreation opportunities for our community,” Centre Region Parks and Recreation Director Pam Salokangas said. “Millbrook Marsh will be able to increase the number of naturalist-led programs, events, and workshops offered each year, and expand the type of events to include music, films, art exhibits and more.”
The second phase will complete construction of the accessible facility and will include sustainable design to match the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification of the first phase. Features will include solar panels, use of recycled materials and large windows for natural light.
Nature center grounds and other facilities will remain open when construction begins.
In addition to the education building, Millbrook Marsh includes an 1850s bank barn and outbuildings, picnic pavilion, two sun shelters, a boardwalk, walking trails and native gardens.
The nature center welcomes more than 20,000 participants each year for programs and events, not including recreational day users.