April 10, 2008

Plan addresses deferred maintenance issues

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees, meeting in Edwardsville today (April 10), approved a 10-year, $75 million plan that will address critical aspects of the Carbondale campus maintenance backlog.

The plan will use funding from a student maintenance fee coupled with a $25 million bond sale scheduled for fiscal year 2012 to replace roofs, improve classrooms and laboratories and address dozens of other infrastructure and life-safety needs across campus.

"This is good news for our campus," said Philip S. Gatton, director of plant and service operations on the SIUC campus. "We have been without adequate funding sources to deal with our deferred maintenance and this addresses that problem. We have prioritized the projects in this plan according to life-safety, protection of University assets and functionality. This plan will allow us to make great progress in tackling these issues."

Officials estimate deferred maintenance totals $300 million to $500 million. The plan provides the means to address many of the most critical issues, Gatton said.

"There is very little in terms of aesthetic issues in the plan. This is really meant to address important infrastructure needs," he said.

The plan kicks off in July with the start of the new fiscal year, during which the University will spend more than $2.3 million on roofs, steam tunnels, heating and water systems and some interior aesthetics, such as painting and carpeting in academic areas. A facilities maintenance fee, implemented in fall 2007, will fund these projects.

The University will use the proceeds from that fee for additional projects during fiscal years 2010 and 2011 before selling a $25 million bond in fiscal year 2012, which will greatly increase the amount of funding available for projects during the plan's lifetime.

During subsequent years, the University will use the facilities maintenance fee to pay off the bonds and pay for additional maintenance projects.

Gatton said the campus community provided input for the plan, which addresses the most pressing maintenance issues. By fiscal year 2018, the University plans to have spent about $75 million on maintenance projects. Gatton said officials will re-asses the plan at least annually and will continue adjusting it to match priorities as they emerge.

Among the planned projects at this time are:

• $20 million on heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, which is important in preventing mold or mildew contamination in buildings.

• $10 million on classroom and laboratory upgrades, making them more modern and functional with current technology.

• $7 million on roofs, cutting down on leakage problems that plague buildings.

• $6 million on chillers that will operate year-round to provide additional cooling capacity.

• Almost $5 million on fire alarms across the campus.

• $4 million on water line replacements.

• $3 million on steam tunnels, which will improve efficiency and save money on utility costs.

• $2 million on primary electrical upgrades.

• $2 million on HVAC at Parkinson Laboratory.

•$1.5 million on heating and water systems at the Agriculture Building.

•$1.5 million on elevator upgrades.

•$1.25 million on lighting upgrades for Shryock Auditorium.