At age 35, the Niagara County Community College campus was looking a bit frayed at the edges.
Its signs were worn and sometimes confusing, its roadways tattered in places. Its parking lots were inadequate, and sometimes inconvenient, particularly for the handicapped.
But times are changing.
This fall, the college has invested $344,720 in new signs for the outside and inside of its buildings. Most of the outside work is done, including the two large signs at the school's Saunders Settlement Road entrance. The signs on Saunders Settlement and Townline roads also have been illuminated from the inside so they can be clearly seen at night.
The college also has completed a $593,750 paving project that has created a new 58-space parking lot in front of the Lewis Library. Lot 2 caters to the disabled and to visitors.
The staff parking area -- Lot 3 in front of the Notar Administration Building -- also has been expanded, from 89 to 172 spaces.
In addition, the Student Senate spent $19,489 to erect a new, 80-foot flagpole in front of the school, complete with a 20-by-30-foot American flag.
Most noticeable are the new signs, which are blue with gold highlights, and gold and white print.
College Vice President of Operations Dennis P. Dragich said the work was needed.
"The pre-existing signs on campus were put in over several generations," Dragich said. "They didn't match. Some of them were inaccurate, and they didn't look professional at all.
"Part of our [college] mission statement says we are to provide an educational environment of excellence. We expect excellence from our students, so we need to look uniform and professional. These signs do that."
Dragich added, "If you establish an environment of excellence, whether it's signs or even cleanliness in the hallways, then the students will hopefully live up to that. If you have something that's shoddy and half-done, I think you tend to get that kind of response."
He said the new signs look sharp and direct people by using a building's academic name instead of A Building or G Building, as was the case with the old signs.
"They direct you to the appropriate parking lot that serves buildings, like the library or the Student Center or the Notar Building," he said.
The new interior signs, which will have the same design as those outdoors, will be installed inside buildings during the semester break.
"They will tell you where you are and how to get to where you want to be," Dragich said. Also, each room will be labeled in the same fashion.
The school's sign contractor is ASI Modulax of Grand Island, and the paving contractor is Scott Lawn Yard of Sanborn. M&M Electric handled the electrical work, Dragich said.
The new parking lot has 14 parking spaces for vehicles with handicapped designations, four for people dropping children off for child care, and 40 for visitors. Parking for visitors is free for an hour.
"Parking Lot 3, which used to be called A Lot, was more than doubled for faculty and staff," Dragich said. "It used to be just for administration, but it was the only lot on campus that was 100 percent full at almost every hour every day, so we expanded it."
The parking lot work was finished last weekend, Dragich said, and most outdoor signs should be installed within the next week or two.
The college also is doing some landscaping, including the addition of a half-dozen fir trees, as well as many shrubs and perennials, with more expected next spring.
"The idea is to keep the grounds looking colorful and attractive year-round," Dragich said. "There's also an area in front where we can put seasonal flowers that we can periodically change, even for an event."