Lynn University renovates in preparation for final presidential debate of 2012

BOCA RATON, Fla. - With its big national moment only nine months away, Lynn University is planning to spruce up its main entrance on Military Trail - and add a second entrance on Potomac Road. The price tag is about $2 million, $1 million each pledged by two donors.

Lynn will be the site of the final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign Oct. 22, a coup for the small private university. It's expected to draw 8,000 to 10,000 people, including 3,000 to 5,000 journalists.

"We're excited to have the next leader of the free world on our campus and have the world come to Boca Raton and Lynn University," said Greg Malfitano, senior vice president for administration.

The renovation of the main entrance on Military Trail will include a new traffic signal and an increase of its entrance road to five lanes.

Three oak trees were relocated on campus over winter break, and 15 trees, including pine, live oak and black olive, were removed to make way for the new entrance.

Lynn will replace them with 62 mature trees, including 42 pines 12 to 16 feet tall, 13 live oak trees 18 feet tall and seven bald cypresses 8 to 12 feet tall.

The entrance updates are to be paid for by a $1 million pledge from Boca Raton's Robert Sheetz, the retired founder of Sheetz Corp., a fast-food and fuel business in the Northeast.

At Potomac Road on the south side of the campus, a new entrance will be added, as well as a back perimeter road.

An existing nature preserve will be relocated to the western edge of the campus.

The preserve will be named for Benjamin Olewine, of Harrisburg, Pa., and Boca Raton, who pledged $1 million to create the new entrance.

The Olewine preserve is a Florida scrub, the oldest plant community in the state and considered an imperiled plant community. It includes seven animal species and 40 plants listed as rare, threatened or endangered.

Olewine, 90, led his family's wholesale food business until it was sold to Sysco Corp. in 1988. Lynn gave him an honorary degree in May.

Olewine said he would be delighted to attend the debate on Oct. 22, "if they can give me two tickets."

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