Kristina Williamson, ’14, Staff Writer
Already, Merrimack has managed to attract 5,000 applicants for the freshman class entering in the fall of 2012. President Christopher Hopey said the current enrollment of 2,100 will rise to 2,300 — meaning at least 200 more freshmen will be on campus.
Because freshmen and sophomores will be guaranteed on-campus housing, the president has said Merrimack will acquire off-campus housing for upperclassmen.
The Holiday Inn Express on Route 114, near Interstate 495 in Lawrence confirmed to the Beacon that college officials approached the hotel to discuss renting rooms.
However, hotel manager Victor Abramson informed the Beacon that he doesn’t see the hotel being taken over by Merrimack students. “It would potentially make our company look good, but our future finances would be at risk,” he said.
The hotel has not been without problems. On May 15, 2006, the hotel suffered a flood. It rained for a couple of days straight, causing the Shawsheen River, adjacent to the hotel, to overflow into the building. As a result, the whole first floor was completely covered in water, affecting 10 to 14 rooms, Abramson said.
Asked if that could happen again, putting potential residents in danger, he said, “It is very prone to happen again, but hopefully I won’t be working here by then.”
Aside from flooding threat, transportation is another negative issue amongst the student body if this plan were to follow through. The lot that the building is set on is shared with a Friendly’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Lee Chen, a Chinese restaurant. It is a very busy parking lot that isn’t even an acre wide, sharing one entrance and exit for all three buildings.
“It takes me at least 10 minutes just to turn left out of that parking lot from Dunkin’ Donuts to get back to school,” said Rachel Sullivan, a Merrimack sophomore.
“It would create a great image for our hotel, but in the long run we would lose money if we allowed our hotel rooms to turn into dorm rooms,” Mr Jacobson, the assistant manager, answered, when asked if he thought the hotel management would approve of housing plans for next year.
“If anything, we could maybe give up 15 to 20 two- to four-person rooms, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to actually happen,” Jacobson said.