Gateway moves the city closer to college town status

There are more than 7,000 college students attending Lycoming College and the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport.

That’s equal to about a fourth of the population of the city.

So, factually, Williamsport is a college town.

But while there is some evidence of that, there needs to be more.

We hope the groundbreaking for Lycoming College’s new $10.6 million gateway building on Monday was the moment when Williamsport’s visual look as a college town advanced to another level.

Penn College many years ago built a much more visually appealing entrance and, combined with the addition of several modern facilities, transformed itself into a school with a striking, inviting campus well connected with the city and within a few hundred yards of a major exit of Interstate 180 at Maynard Street.

Lycoming College is now positioned to do the same with the addition of the new Krapf Gateway Building – named for two brothers who are alumni of the Class of 1967 – that will be constructed near the corner of East Fourth and Franklin streets.

The building will be the first place prospective students and their parents and family will see of Lycoming College. It will house numerous academic and recreational activities for students.

Importantly, it will face south and be within a block of the Interstate 180 interchange at Basin Street. As that connector is modernized as part of the larger Old City Project, Lycoming College will have that welcoming presence that joins it with the rest of the city.

And it is a portion of the city where new development is being promoted along with a variety of infrastructure improvements.

It’s not a stretch to see this new entrance and traffic to the 31,250-square-foot building being the spur to any number of commercial endeavors that will see the benefit of a college neighborhood.

So, after years of ideas and false starts, ground is being turned and a building is being constructed. Infrastructure and traffic pattern changes that complement the development are on the drawing board.

The East End of Williamsport is about to get an overdue makeover. And the city is about to take a defining step forward toward being what it has needed to be for a very long time – a college town.