Plans underway for campus capital projects

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

Replacing the elevators in McAfee Gym and the Student Services Building along with other significant projects are expected to take place during the summer semester.

Tim Zimmer, the director of facilities planning and management, announced the long anticipated repairs during a Tuesday Faculty Senate meeting.

Zimmer said contracts are set to be awarded for about $600,000 worth of heating and air conditioning work on campus such as replacing the heating and air conditioning in the math department and replacing the heating and air conditioning units on the roof of the business office.

In addition to that, Zimmer said electrical work will also be done such as replacing all of the main switch gears like in Old Main or Buzzard Hall.

The original designs for this replacement was completed and bid on in 2015 were “shelved” because of the impasse, Zimmer said.

Many of the capital projects on campus were shelved as a result of the budget impasse that started in 2015 including the replacement of the elevators in the Student Services Building and McAfee Gym.

Construction on the elevators ceased on June 30, 2015, Zimmer said, and replacing these elevators is the one project that is the most anticipated.

Grunloh Construction will complete the elevator project, and Zimmer said they are waiting for approval before beginning the project at the end of the semester.

He said he hopes to have many of expected projects to be finished by the start of the Fall 2019 semester. 

But Zimmer said because of the budget impasse, the change order, which is work that is added (or sometimes deleted) from the original contract and thus alters the original contract amount or completion date, for Grunloh Construction is at about $143,000.

He said since then the prevailing wages have increased, and material stored outside had to be thrown away, which he said reflects the magnitude that the state budget impasse had on not just Eastern but state wide.

There is another part of the change order, Zimmer mentioned, in which the elevator supplier requested $60,000 for elevator storage, because as of last year the elevator supplier wanted 60,000 for elevator storage.

Zimmer said they built all the elements for the elevators, but since the project stopped in June of 2015 they had to store those elements like the elevator motor.

He said in order to store it and maintain the warranty they had to uncrate the motor and rotate by hand otherwise it would deteriorate.

That part of the change order has not been executed.

Zimmer said completing the elevator work would also “entail some handicap accessible door openers” like finishing the work at Buzzard Hall and the Tarble Arts Center and doing some sidewalk work.

“There are half a dozen sidewalk areas that will be improved and made more accessible,” Zimmer said.

He said in regards to repairs that are needed for the Life Science Building, a design kick-off meeting for the building’s heating and air conditioning was held and is expected to start next summer.

The project started about five years ago, Zimmer said, but because of the impasse it was left alone and the ceiling in the building was left without tiles or lights, something that would have cost more to temporarily fix.

Billy Hung, the Senate recorder and a biology professor, said it is frustrating when he and other faculty members try to recruit students from high schools that have better classrooms than Eastern.

“It seems like we’re working with both hands tied behind our back in a way,” Hung said. “I know that (facilities) is amazing because you guys basically live in our building … it’s held together by good will and duct tape. I appreciate the hard work of (facilities).”

Zimmer said there are other repairs that will be started on in “the near future” like repairs to the Booth Library stairs and the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union stairs.

Paul McCann, the vice president of business affairs, said some of the projects are funded by a Capital Development Board fund, something that the state provides but could take away at any moment.

McCann said although there is progress such as the repairs that were made on the stairs at Lantz Arena, when it comes to finishing some of the summer projects he said that might still be up in the air because of the state’s reputation.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].