The perfect atmosphere can turn a bad day good, and make a good day better. Last February, President Mike Metke addressed the entire Board of Trustees and emphasized that the college is facing critical infrastructure needs that must be addressed before any phase of the new Campus Master Plan can begin.
Maintenance projects included: a capacity upgrade in Wise Auditorium, heating, ventilating and air conditioning replacement in Potter Hall, Jenkins Hall, and Vaughn Library, the Tyler Junior College West Campus and Central Plant, roof replacements in the Vaughn Library and the Orneles Health and Physical Education Center, complete renovations on Hudnall Planetarium, Wagstaff Educational Facilities, and Genecov.
Between April and May of 2009, Metke conducted meetings with various individuals and groups to discuss TJC’s infrastructure and to seek methods to pay for the necessary repairs. In July, Metke reported to the Tyler Leadership Roundtable the infrastructure of Tyler Junior College, and then proposed anywhere between $25-$30 million dollars for “critical infrastructure needs.”
“Even if you had a Cadillac from the 1960’s and you wanted to drive it every day, you can imagine that it would need a little maintenance,” Dr. Metke said at the Aug. 26 Board of Trustees meeting.
While Wagstaff renovations are expected to be complete in November, the next step in renovations for the crew is the chilled hot water loops on campus; which will affect almost every student at TJC.
Hot and chilled water loops are used to heat and cool buildings on the campus, and since February of 2009, the loop has had four different breaks and is in dire need of repair. Leaks occur because the mechanical joints on the loops are failing, and the valves are broken, therefore causing the system to have no structural integrity.
This type of construction will require the tearing up of sidewalks around buildings like the library and Rogers Student Center among others. While this will cause inconvenience to many students on campus, the crew understands and is focused on four key points that range from the well-being of the campus to the students and faculty as well.
“The renovations crew first tries to focus on the safety of not only themselves, but of every individual coming in contact with the construction sites, but also the scope of their project, followed by the cost and the schedule of their project, and sticking to it,” said Bill King, the Executive Director of Facilities and Construction.
Work on the hot and chilled water loop on TJC’s main campus will begin in the next 30-45 days and will conclude during Spring 2011. Although this will detour students, faculty and staff from their typical pathways, the crew plans to do the work in phases to cause the least possible inconvenience to students and teachers.
“The process will be done in stages. We may even build a land bridge for pedestrian access,” said Kevin Jones, TJC Project and Maintenance supervisor.
The science labs in Genecov will begin renovations in January of 2011, and will cause the complete vacation of the building. The science labs will be relocated to portable classrooms about a block from the main campus, behind the new tennis courts.
“The science labs in Genecov date back to the 1960’s, and renovation will cause vacating the largest building that we have over to what I like to call our “village in the woods.” Everybody seems to be taking a very positive attitude, because they know that it is only temporary,” said Metke.
Parking for the new off-campus portables has not been completely determined yet, but the Board hopes that all students will benefit from walking to and from their new science labs daily.
“There simply is not enough room for parking, we’re thinking about expanding time between classes, maybe going from 10 to 15 minutes between each. We’re all working on getting healthier and more fit as a campus, so walking a little bit further might help us achieve our fitness initiative,” added Metke.
Also in the coming months, renovations will begin on the Hudnall Planetarium and academic center, which will be renamed TJC Planetarium. Reconstruction will begin in October, with a complete renovation of the planetarium and an added classroom.
“It’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” said King.
For the safety of all during the coming construction, the renovations crew stresses the importance of students doing their best to steer clear of construction zones and hard hat areas.
“Our utmost priority is the safety of our students and staff. It’s a necessary evil that we have to do, maintaining the integrity of this campus is high on my priority list,” said Jones.
Other precautions should be taken during renovations on campus as well. Students should be prepared for parking lot access to be interrupted, as well as walking paths, disruptions to electrical utilities and intramural field access, and possible distractions to building entrances due to the necessary pulling up of sidewalks.
“In general, the less sitting areas and less passageways will seem like more of a hassle, and a more congested area. Speaking long-term, the less issues will make it better,” said sophomore Raphael Books.
While the renovations crew will always be doing minor projects on campus they have planned to be done with all major construction during Spring 2011.
“I’m feeling good, hoping to leave TJC better than when I found it,” added Metke. “I think that’s what all of us hope to do.”