UNIVERSITY PARK — The Nittany Lion Shrine is a popular Penn State attraction where throngs of students and alumni flock to get their picture taken with the iconic statue.
But on Monday, the university closed it off so construction crews could work on its surroundings.
Access to the shrine will be improved with an accessible ramp, stairs and new sidewalks to connect with another set of sidewalks, but it will remain at its same location near the Curtin Road-North Burrowes Street intersection on campus.
The improvements and renovations are a gift from the Penn State Class of 2012, which came up with the idea nearly two years ago, said Laura Stocker, of the Office of University Relations.
So far, the class has donated $170,000 for renovations, said Paul Ruskin, communications and public affairs coordinator at the Office of the Physical Plant.
According to a university news release, a group of students who graduated last year worked on a plan to renovate the area so it could be handicap-accessible, then presented the idea to the Office of the Physical Plant that would be responsible for those renovations and improvements.
Late last year, the board of trustees approved a plan that would cost about $160,000, said Dwayne Rush, a project manger for the Office of the Physical Plant. Any money left over from the donations toward the project would be put away for future renovations if needed, according to the university.
Stocker said the area will remain closed until Aug. 5 through Aug. 12 for graduation. After that, the final landscaping and cleanup process will begin, Ruskin said.
During the closure, Ruskin said workers will install stones next to the shrine, grade and place stones around the mound, and construct steps and a gently sloped path to make it handicap-accessible.
Other improvements will include new lighting, landscaping and repairs to the statue base, in addition to a historical display that will be installed in the vicinity of the shrine.
He noted that on May 31, the shrine might be available for reunion photos.
Depending on many variables that can impact the progress of the works, including weather, there may be limited access between summer commencement and Sept. 6, the completion date of the project, Stocker said.
Preliminary work began April 15. The shrine reopened briefly for graduation photos.
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648.