News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 23, 2013

ISU to request OK to spend $4M to bring down towers

TERRE HAUTE — The end is in sight for Statesman Towers, following action Friday by the Indiana State University board of trustees.

The board authorized the university to take the steps necessary to demolish the towers. ISU will now request state approval to spend up to $4 million for the project.

University officials also have permission to enter into contracts for demolition once ISU has state approval to proceed.

“We’ve waited a long time for this,” said Diann McKee, ISU vice president for business affairs.

ISU is working with Schmidt and Associates to determine the best, safest and most cost-effective way to demolish the towers, whether through implosion or crane and wrecking ball.

The two towers, formerly used as residence halls and then as academic buildings, are located between Eighth and Ninth streets on the northeast part of campus. Together, they have 320,000 square feet of space.

Actual demolition won’t begin until late this year or early next year, McKee has said.

The massive project is going through a design process similar to what would occur for a new building. “This is a very, very large project,” McKee told trustees.

The first part involves asbestos removal, which will be bid in late August and begin in early September. That part of the project will take about two months and involves primarily removal of floor tiles.

When that is completed, the demolition contractor will have about two months to salvage items, including 600 window air conditioners, all doors, metal and electrical items.

“It is a very laborious process before you ever get to the point of actually going through demolition itself,” McKee said.

It’s anticipated the entire project will be completed by spring 2014. Once demolition is complete, “There is going to be a considerable cleanup period of removing the debris,” she said.

ISU also is working closely with the Debs Museum “to make sure it is well protected in the process,” she said.

The $4 million covers all project costs, not just demolition, she said.

Once demolition is complete, ISU will sod and seed the area, but it has no other immediate plans for the site, McKee said.

The $4 million pricetag will be funded through residence hall reserves and university general facility reserves.

Trustee Ed Pease asked if residence hall reserves can be used, since the buildings have been used for academic purposes for many years.

McKee said state officials, who “are very eager to see this come to fruition,” encouraged the funding method being used.

The towers used to house the Bayh College of Education and Scott College of Business, which have moved to new locations. Prior to serving as academic facilities, they served as residence halls starting around 1968.

The board approved moving forward with demolition. “Good luck,” said board president Randy Minas said.

The board had about 20 action items Friday.

Another area generating discussion was an increase in parking permit fees, which will go up about 2.5 percent for 2013-14. The board approved the increase.

It means a $3 increase for surface lot permits, the one most frequently used by  faculty, staff and students (from $125 to $128), a $2 increase for remote parking ($68 to $70) and a $6 increase for the use of the parking garage and all surface lots ($250 to $256). No changes are proposed for daily guest permits. Increases take effect Aug. 16.

McKee said the “modest increase” is necessary to keep up with inflationary increases. The fees pay for paving, seal coating, striping and snow removal.

The last increase was two years ago.

“Our parking facilities are funded solely by permit fees paid by faculty, staff and students,” McKee said. State funding cannot be used for maintenance and upkeep of parking facilities.”

Staff Council representative Karen Buchholz said the council is concerned about the increase in parking permit fees, which is in addition to health insurance increases.

McKee noted the permit fees can be paid through payroll deduction on a pretax basis, which makes the increase even less.

President Dan Bradley said he met with staff council leadership last week and discussed the increases.

Trustees also approved increases in parking violation fines, with most fines increasing from $20 to $25; that includes not having a permit, parking in the wrong lot and parking in a yellow zone. The fines for illegally parking in a handicap space will increase from $75 to $100, while the penalty for using an altered or stolen permit will increase from $100 to $125.

McKee said the increases are in line with what other Indiana public institutions are charging.

If a student doesn’t pay within five days, the charge is passed along to the bursar’s office and placed on a student’s account.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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