Winterizing, shutdown of campus to end by November
- Published: October 2, 2008
The winterization and shutdown processes at the Antioch College campus will be completed by approximately Nov. 1, according to Antioch University Chief Financial Officer Tom Faecke last week.
Faecke, Antioch University Chancellor Toni Murdock and Antioch University Board of Trustees President Art Zucker last week led several tours through Antioch buildings in an effort to show the university’s progress in closing down the campus. Selected villagers were invited to the tours, which were not open to the public.
“There has been much discussion in the village through newspaper articles, WYSO and general conversation about the stewardship of the Antioch College facilities in regard to the shut down process,” according to Antioch University Director of Public Relations Lynda Sirk this week. “In an effort to continue building on openness and transparency, the university opened the facilities to the community for their observation. For safety reasons, it could not be a general open house but rather a representation of the community.”
The Yellow Springs News requested the opportunity to attend a community tour and was not allowed to do so because the tours were not open to the press, Sirk said. However, Sirk and Faecke led this reporter on a tour of three buildings on Thursday.
Tour participants included Village Council members Judith Hempfling and Lori Askeland, Yellow Springs Police Chief John Grote and members of the Visioning Task Force. Some Antioch College alumni also joined the event.
One college supporter who had earlier questioned the university’s efforts to winterize the campus said that the tour helped to alleviate his concerns.
“I was favorably impressed,” said Peter Townsend, former Antioch College professor and an organizer of the October 1st Committee to Save the College. That group advocates maintaining a minimal level of heat in campus buildings to prevent deterioration. Because the university has stated the buildings will not be heated due to cost considerations, the group has pushed for winterizing processes to minimize building damage.
While none of the campus buildings are fully winterized at this time, the university will hire a contractor to complete the pipe draining process, cap the pipes and then pump low pressure air through them to completely eradicate moisture, according to Faecke. This process is considered standard winterization procedure for unheated buildings, according to Townsend, who said he was pleased that the university plans to follow this process.
College alumni leaders still prefer that the university provide a minimal level of heat to the buildings, according to Noreen Dean Dresser, the cochair of the alumni board’s facilities committee, but if cost prevents heating the buildings, the university should use optimal winterizing procedures to maintain the buildings. Historic preservation specialist Glenn Harper of the Ohio Historical Society wrote university leaders last summer advising that they maintain a minimal level of heat to prevent what could be rapid deterioration of the buildings if they are left cold.
However, the university will not heat the buildings due to cost considerations, since the cost is estimated at around $400,000 or $500,000, Faecke has said, adding that if the alumni board wants to pay for the heat, the buildings could be heated. That estimated cost includes the cost of hiring associates, Sirk said this week.
Last week’s tour for community members included a walk-through of six campus buildings, including Spalt Hall, the Union Building, the library, the science building, the gym and South Hall, according to several participants. Tour participants were also shown a slide show of building deterioration, and given copies of a report from the university’s consultants, the Stanley Group, and of a memo on shutdown and winterization procedures from Faecke and Murdock to Zucker and the university board’s facilities committee. These documents may be accessed online at www.TheAntiochPapers.org.
In the tour on Thursday, Faecke said that the university has hired Reick Mechanical of Dayton to complete the winterization of the buildings.
“The university will be following the advice of our consultants to avoid, as much as possible, the threat of moisture and mold when not providing heating and cooling to closed buildings. The goal is to keep the buildings dry, particularly during the change of season,” the memo from Faecke and Murdock states.
In order to minimize moisture, in the winter, the buildings’ ventilation systems will be turned on daily for an hour to mix the warmer air in the south side of the building with the cooler air on the north side, according to the memo. In the spring when the weather warms, the windows will be opened and the ventilation system turned on to circulate warm air.
While a few of the buildings have been partially winterized by the college’s minimal maintenance staff, (currently, there are two workers), Reick employees will go through all of the college’s 33 buildings to make sure they are properly prepared, Faecke said.
The effort to both maintain and shut down the campus, and to pay unemployment claims, will cost about $2 million, according to Faecke, who said that amount includes $1 million contributed by the other university campuses.
While the campus is being shut down, conversation continues in a task force of representatives from both college alumni and university trustees, who are seeking to create a letter of intent to present to the trustees to create an independent Antioch College.
In response to questions about university plans for the campus if the conversations are not successful in reaching an agreement, Faecke said that at this point all efforts are aimed at creating a “successful independent college.”
“We want to keep our focus on that goal,” he said. “We have no Plan B.”
Concerns had been raised in recent weeks about dumpsters outside campus buildings filled with what some perceived were usable pieces of furniture and other equipment. According to the memo from Faecke and Murdock, equipment and furniture that is usable will be stored in the buildings in which they were used, and subpar items will be thrown away. Computer equipment will be “evaluated and properly stored centrally for later distribution,” the memo states.
Some alumni reacted strongly several weeks ago when many plastic bags in a dumpster contained books from the college’s Womyn’s Center library that had been housed at the Student Union. According to University Chief Operating Officer Milt Thompson in a later interview, throwing away the books was a mistake and will not happen again. Last week Faecke stated that many of the books were strewn on the floor in a Union Building room, and were mistaken for debris. According to the memo to the trustees, all books will be stored until a determination is made for future use or archival significance.
According to Faecke’s memo, valuable archives and collections located in various buildings on campus have been identified and inventoried by University Archivist Scott Sanders. These items will be secured in a climate-controlled environment, the memo states. Student records will be evaluated and stored in a central location, although some will be digitized and then destroyed.
Chemicals in the science building have already been removed by a licensed chemical removal company, according to Faecke in an email this week. “It is an unsafe environment to have chemicals stored in a shuttered building. It was a precautionary move,” he stated.
A rough estimate of the replacement value of the chemicals is about $500,000, according to former Antioch College chemistry professor David Kammler, who said he estimated the cost by tabulating the current market value of the chemicals. While he agrees that the chemicals could not be kept safely in a locked building, Townsend questioned why they could not be stored somewhere else in the event the college reopens.
Faecke did not respond to questions regarding the cost of the removal of chemicals, and which company performed the work.
Because of alumni concerns about items thrown away during the shutdown, Alumni Board President Nancy Crow had requested that alumni representatives be allowed to do an inventory of campus buildings in order to identify those items that should be preserved. While selected alumni reps were invited to join last week’s campus tour, the alumni will not be allowed to conduct an inventory, according to Faecke this week.
“We are working with the task force and not the alumni in general,” he said. “Until a deal is reached we are not doing any inventory. It is very time consuming and not necessary until decisions are reached.”
After taking the campus tour last week, Alumni Board representative Don Wallace said that he believes the alumni should still be allowed to make the inventory.
“Nothing much can happen in two hours,” Wallace said, referring to the tour. “Nothing can substitute for a proper inventory.”
It would be helpful if, soon after the winterization process is completed, the university would provide the alumni with a certified report by engineers that identifies the work completed, Wallace said.
A false alarm incident that occurred several weeks ago at Main Building raised concerns because it made clear to local alumni that the building’s alarm system is not connected to the fire department.
Five Antioch College buildings — the library, the art building, McGregor and Fels, along with Main — have similar long-standing fire alarm systems that do not connect to the fire department, according to Altman last week. The alarm systems are compliant with the fire code because they met the code at the time of the buildings’ construction. These systems go off inside the building and depend on people inside to alert the fire department to the problem.
Currently, there are no people inside the closed buildings to alert fire officials. However, according to Altman, while ideally the systems would be updated, doing so would cost significant amounts of money.
“It’s a balance of the risk versus the cost,” he said, adding that buildings all over the country have similar systems. “I don’t think it’s a big issue. It’s been this way for many years.”
About five campus buildings, those most recently constructed or remodeled, have wet sprinkler systems that are being converted to dry systems, according to Altman. Twelve other buildings have monitored systems, in which fire alarms are connected to a monitoring business that then alerts the fire department. The theater building and the gym have no alarm system, according to Altman, who said all of these systems are compliant with the fire code.
The university has recently installed 66 “very elaborate and sophisticated” security cameras outside campus buildings, according to Faecke last week, who said that some buildings are also equipped with motion sensors.
“We’re doing all we can to protect all the buildings, especially North, South and Main buildings, the original historic buildings,” he said.
While the buildings now have security cameras, Faecke said he would not comment on whether or how often the security cameras are monitored. One aspect of the security system is that people should not know if and when they are being watched, he said, so that giving detailed information would undermine the security system. The university’s two maintenance workers will walk through buildings several times a week, adding to the daytime security, and a security officer will be on duty five hours each night, Faecke said.