Progress and setbacks on campus renovations  

Chrissy Miller, News Editor

Although issues with the state government prevent Eastern from moving forward with a $5 million renovation of the heating and ventilation in Coleman Hall and the Life Sciences building, projects including the Tarble addition continue to show progress.

Paul McCann, interim vice president for business affairs, said Eastern received an appropriation from Springfield for the work in the Life Sciences building and Coleman. However, the money has been placed on hold until the project is approved by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“It is only a one-year appropriation so if we do not get it, it will not come in the future,” McCann said. “It’ll depend on whether the governor and the Capitol Development Board can see their way through to do this stuff or not.”

McCann said even if the money gets released from its current hold, the renovation must be completed by June 30, 2018 to use the funds.

“If we don’t get started pretty soon, the chances of us being able to get anything measurable is probably slim,” McCann said.

Money for the elevator projects in both McAfee and the Student Services building has not been re-appropriated since the projects started nearly three years ago, McCann said. The addition of elevators in these buildings would have made the buildings more handicap accessible.

“Those projects are at a standstill until the state appropriates some more money,” McCann said. “The elevators are half way done. We’d like to get them done. Especially at McAfee, there’s some damage being done to the building because it’s somewhat open to the elements while they’re doing this work.”

Even though the state budget does not include the money for the renovations, McCann said Eastern has received around $14.5 million from the state. McCann said $5.6 million was appropriations for the 2017 fiscal year, $2.5 million was appropriations for 2018 and $6.4 million was for M.A.P. 2017.

“We’ll have to see as we move forward how much additional commitment we can make to some of the projects on campus,” McCann said. “We’re certainly trying to get there, but educating the students and paying employees certainly takes a higher priority.”

Currently, McCann said work has been done over the summer in Greek Court as well as the lounges in Taylor and Stevenson residence halls. Lantz Arena also received repairs to its roof, and a few staff members were hired back to help maintain the grounds.

“We’ve got a few more people back in the grounds area, and they’ve been working very hard to make the gardens look good,” McCann said. “I think from that standpoint we’ve accomplished it, that they do look very nice.”

McCann said the 1,000-foot addition to Tarble was almost 50 percent done and going smoothly.

The construction is scheduled to be completed Nov. 17, said Mike Schuetz, assistant director of the Tarble Arts Center. Schuetz also said he expects the various classes to be back in Tarble in the spring semester. For now, the classes will be held in the Doudna Fine Arts Center. Tarble will be back to normal hours on Aug. 26.

“All the exhibitions will be open like normal and then the galleries will be open,” Schuetz said. “The only real missing link there would be any kind of classes. So, we won’t have any classes, but, otherwise, Tarble will be operating as normal.”

Schuetz said his excitement for the new facility goes beyond having extra space.

“Anytime you get a new facility with new stuff is always exciting because everyone likes new stuff. It’s more up to date. It’s a little more user friendly,” Schuetz said. “It will help some of the classroom traffic in and out of the building because they’ll have their own dedicated entrance and exit, whereas before they would just kind of make their way through the atrium and in through the gallery.”

Chrissy Miller can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]