Campus construction halted by unapproved state fiscal budget


Josh Saxton

The side entrance of McAfee Gymnasium is closed due to the construction of an elevator in the building. Construction for the elevator began this summer, but due to the lack of a state fiscal budget construction has stopped until further notice.

Roberto Hodge, News Editor

Construction on elevators in McAfee Gymnasium and the Student Services Building has stopped pending the release of the 2016 state fiscal budget.

Ground was broken on McAfee in June, while the student services building began in March; however, all construction cannot resume until legislature approves a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Eric Wahls, the project coordinator for Facilities, Planning and Management, said Eastern is not financially responsible for the project as all funding is coming from the State of Illinois Capital Development board.

Funding for the project is about $1.7 million, which includes a $1.5 million construction and $200,000 design budget.

The project is a larger part of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with the ADA door operating buttons.

The elevator in McAfee will replace the one of five chairlifts on campus, which are located in Coleman and Stevenson halls and the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Rathskeller.

“It is EIU’s wishes to limit chair lift use; however, if there is a need more could be installed I suppose. It just depends on the need and the most logical accommodation,” Wahls said.

Until the work is done in the Student Services Building, the north side entrance facing Old Main has been closed. A new entrance was constructed facing south, which is where the elevator is being built.

“This is critical for a lot of students—every student needs to have a Panther Card,” Wahls said.

If the projects were not to be finished prior to the winter season, Wahls assured the exposed areas of McAfee would be properly sealed from the elements.

Wahls said as soon as the state decides on a budget, they can work on resuming construction, but the issue with that is while Eastern’s projects may be on hold, those doing the actual building may be working on other projects.

Though the state has been funding the two elevator projects separate from the campus’s budget, the university has financial responsibility to other construction projects.

Coleman Hall and the Life Sciences Building have undergone piping work, as well as a new patio for Thomas Hall and a Memorial Garden between Lawson and Andrews halls.

Wahls said Coleman had domestic hall piping failure, which they would be currently fixing throughout the fall semester totals $240,900 and is part of the campus improvement fee.

The piping in the Life Sciences Building is something that has been under construction for a year and will be replaced on the first floor to match those on the second.

Currently, the first floor is served by a two-pipe supply and return system that must be manually switched from heating to cooling as the season change; however, the building will convert to a four-piping system that will serve the whole building, Wahls said.

While Wahls did not know how much was in the Science Fee account because of it being managed outside of Facilities, he said they have been drawing from the account in phases because of the pipe replacement being a longer project.

Mark Hudson, the director of university Housing and Dining, said the patio project in Thomas Hall is meant to replace the original surface from 1965 because of it being a safety hazard.

“We spent a little over $12,000 on the paves and they are being installed by our campus masons,” said Hudson. “The main walkway is open and the rest will be done in the coming weeks.”

Hudson also said the Memorial Garden project, is around $70,000 with a cost being offset by alumni donations.

“Donations continue to come in and over time will cover an even bigger share of the project,” said Hudson. “We are waiting for the engraveable pavers to come in and hope to have this project complete later this fall.”


Roberto Hodge can be reached at [email protected] or 581-2812