April 08, 2004

Trustees OK sprinklers for residence halls

by Tom Woolf

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will install automatic sprinkler systems in its three east campus high-rise residence halls over the next four years.

The SIU Board of Trustees today (April 8) approved the three-phase, $3.5 million project.

Design and installation of the sprinkler system for Schneider Hall will take place in fiscal years 2005 and 2006. In phase two, design and installation of the system will take place in Mae Smith in fiscal years 2006 and 2007, and the final phase calls for design and installation in Neely Hall in fiscal years 2007 and 2008.

Each of the buildings consists of 17 floors and a basement. There are 16 floors of living space with 25 rooms per floor, or 400 rooms per building. Each residence hall also contains offices, study areas and laundry rooms on each floor.

The National Fire Protection Association's 1985 Life Safety Code, enforced by the Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office, did not require sprinklers in the high-rise buildings. However, the fire marshal's office adopted the revised 2000 life-safety code, requiring installation of an automatic sprinkler system in high-rise residence halls with four or more stories.

Funding will come from University Housing's Repair and Replacement Reserve or through other financing arranged by the board's treasurer.

In another University Housing matter, trustees today approved a plan that will give the University full ownership of the Evergreen Terrace apartment complex on the south edge of the campus.

The University secured $4 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1967 for construction of the complex, meaning it is subject to HUD guidelines and control. The SIU Foundation has the mortgage for the property through HUD, and under a management agreement between University Housing and the Foundation, the University manages the complex and makes the monthly mortgage payments to HUD. That payment schedule ends in February 2009.

Recent changes in the interpretation of HUD guidelines are restricting University Housing's ability to perform routine maintenance, renovate the facilities or implement programming for residents.

Under the plan approved today, the University will pay off the remaining $800,000 on the mortgage, using $400,000 in revenue bond fees. Repair and replacement reserve funds held in escrow with HUD will cover the remaining balance. The University will own the title and place the property into the Housing and Auxiliary Facilities Revenue Bond System.

As part of today's action, the board approved using $200,000 in revenue bond fees to pay for a recently completed kitchen cabinet project at Evergreen Terrace. HUD will not approve the expenditure from the escrow fund.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education must approve the plan.

Purchase of Evergreen Terrace also will facilitate the proposed expansion of the complex as outlined in the 2004 SIUC Housing Master Plan. Trustees approved that plan in February.