Stevens winter maintenance to cost $300K

NIU President Baker discusses the state budget Wednesday at a University Council meeting. “Our situation we have here reminds me of one thing: our football team chants after a win in the locker room,” Baker said. “They say, ‘We won. How did we do it? The hard way.’ And that is how I feel about NIU all together across the board.”

By Alexander Chettiath

NIU will spend $300,000 for the winter maintenance of the Stevens Building to avoid $1 million in damage.

The state-funded construction of Steven’s Building began on Sept. 22, 2014, and halted on July 1 — along with all other state construction projects — because of the Illinois budget impasse. The $23.1 million building, which is expected to include a 330-seat lecture hall and a black box theater, sits at 40 percent complete, according to a Sept. 14 Northern Star article.

“Winter is coming. … Our facilities and the folks at the Capital Development Board have said what we need to do to winterize the building, which is basically building a roof and a wall to get it ready for winter,” said NIU President Doug Baker at a University Council meeting Wednesday. “I think it’s a good solution. You just hate to stare at that building and the work that’s been done on it and think winter is going to ravage it.”

The Capital Development Board oversees the design and construction of Illinois-funded projects including the repair and renovation of 8,441 state properties, according to its website. NIU and the Capital Development Board reached an agreement that will allow for the reimbursement of the maintenance cost once the budget has been approved, said Alan Phillips, vice president of Administration and Finance.

The estimated $300,000 maintenance cost is up from the $50,000 that was projected in early September by Phillips.

“The issue with funding is this is one of the cases where the state actually does have the money,” Phillips said. “Technically, if the project is funded through state money, the project belongs to the Capital Development Board, and they’re the ones responsible for it.”

The maintenance work to winter-proof the Stevens Building is expected to begin immediately, and students can expect to see work being done within a few days, Phillips said. Construction for the building is expected to be finished by fall 2016, which was the original completion date for the project.

“What I heard when I was in Springfield was that it probably isn’t going to happen until January because they’re back in full session and because they no longer need a super majority; a simple majority will allow it,” Baker said.