June 25, 1996
50 Projects Underway for $10 Million
By Jennifer Wagner DeNoma
UW-RF News Bureau
Fifty construction projects at UW-River Falls, with a cost of $10 million, are progressing toward finalization this summer.
The projects range from as small as installing an emergency phone at Ramer Field to as massive as the extensive remodeling of the Chalmer Davee Library. The cost of the library construction alone is $7.2 million.
Most of the projects are funded by the state building commission through the division of facilities development in Madison, but some are funded with state tax revenues or from student user fees.
According to Waldo Hagen, director of facilities management, summer is the prime construction season on campus, and this summer certainly is no exception. "When I say this summer is busier than the typical summer, we have to take a look at the typical summer--the typical summer is a zoo," says Hagen.
With the increase in construction work comes the inevitable dirt, noise and foot traffic detours. While Hagen concedes that construction may sometimes be distracting or inconvenient, he also says that much of the work is practically invisible.
An example of a low profile but vital project is the inspecting, testing, repairing and replacing of the primary electrical switch gears. While few people would be distracted by such work underway, the results insure against unplanned electrical outages and even catastrophic failures.
The electrical project is part of a pilot program funded by the state division of facilities development. Eventually the project will extend to all state agencies.
The remodeling of the library is the most visible construction project. The remodeling is on its 10th month with five or six months left if all goes as planned, reports Hagen.
At the beginning of the fall semester, students will return to find the English and journalism computer labs completed. In addition, the new lobby should be nearly finished and many of the circulation patterns will be in place.
The irrigation of four playing fields at the Ramer Field Sports Complex, which began this spring, has been completed in time for the Kansas City Chiefs summer training camp. The Chiefs arrive in River Falls on July 25.
The estimated cost of the irrigation is $80,000, but the Chiefs have negotiated to pay the University $50,000, over half of the total cost.
Farm II is slated to have the steer barn replaced sometime in the late summer. The new building plan was approved by the board of regents, and should cost about $45,000.
"The steer barn was an original structure when the farm was purchased for the University from a private owner," says Hagen. "It was literally rusting away."
The student center ballroom is currently in the design stage for the creation of new office space to house several departments devoted to student programming. The new offices, which will take up the entire ballroom, will include the student leadership development and programs center, the student activities office and student organizations.
The new office space is funded by student user fees and should be finished by fall semester. Its estimated cost is $150,000.
Plans for South Hall are to relocate the alumni offices into the vacant third floor. The project is funded through the UW-RF Foundation and is estimated to cost about $85,000.
A new distance learning classroom in the Agricultural Science Building is nearly complete. Along with installing television cameras and appropriate electronic hardware, the room must be properly lit and surfaced to eliminate glare. In addition, the classroom must be acoustically designed to maximize its sound quality.
Along with the regular facilities management staff, the University is contracting out much of the construction work to as many as 30 private contractors. Many of the contractors are from local communities.
Hagen thinks the improvements will be visible to most of the students and faculty returning for fall semester. While the returning campus community may not be aware of the enormity of the summer construction, he thinks most will notice improvements in the areas they frequent.