Completion is set for the end of the month.
By Kyle R. Cotton
Since April 27, the third floor of Fletcher Administration Center has been going through renovations to accommodate an additional vice president at this college.
After former President Robert Zeigler retired in spring 2014, Dr. Robert Vela split the responsibilities of two vice presidents among three positions: vice presidents of student success, academic success and college services.
David Mrizek, vice president of college services, estimates $1.5 million as the total cost of Fletcher’s renovation, with most coming from the last fiscal year’s savings. “We were able to identify dollars that weren’t spent in labor because of the enrollment decrease that we had,” he said.
Mrizek estimated $250,000 of the $1.5 million came from this year’s budget.
Usually what isn’t used in a given fiscal year returns to district; however, Mrizek said the college was able to use last year’s budget by taking action with what was left.
“The money was not earmarked from the beginning, but as we moved forward through the year, it was obvious that there were dollars that would be made available,” Mrizek said. “In other words, we efficiently used our budget as efficiently as we possibly could.”
Mrizek said this includes architectural, demolition, construction work, system furniture, complete rewiring of the building and dealing with asbestos left from Fletcher’s construction in 1972.
Mrizek said Fletcher’s construction should be done before the end of the month. “The key is that you have a good team that has worked together for a number of years, and based on that — not being a contractor — you have to assume what they are doing is appropriate and being done well.
“Delays are not uncommon, especially in renovation work, because you’ll take down a ceiling, and you’ll find stuff that you didn’t know was there,” Mrizek said.
“This is the first time that (roof) area has been touched since the building was built, so things like asbestos have to be removed; you don’t know how much there is until you take it,” Mrizek said.
“It was interesting when we took down the ceiling in the hallway. It looked like a rat’s nest up there of wires, so they had to figure out where they were all going, which ones were dead, which ones were live, bundle them together, or else you’re not going to pass electrical inspection.
“You end up with unanticipated things that have to be done that inevitably stretches the project a little bit,” Mrizek said.
“We were looking at trying to get everyone back by the middle of September, but it just didn’t work.”
Despite how old the other buildings are on campus and asbestos being cleared out, Mrizek said there were no plans to remove it from other buildings.
“If you don’t touch it, it’s not an issue. When you touch it is when it allows it to become dust in the air; if you don’t touch it, there are no worries,” Mrizek said.
“Same thing when you’re doing tile all over the campus. Whenever you do old buildings, when you take up the tile, there is asbestos in it because that’s what was used back then.
“There’s probably buildings still that have asbestos in them, but it’s not dangerous until you start mucking around in there,” he said.
The renovation was necessary to accommodate the new organizational structure of the vice presidents, Mrizek said.
“When Dr. Zeigler retired and Dr. Vela took over, it was already apparent that it was not to the college’s advantage to have a single vice president handling both arts and sciences and student services,” Mrizek said, highlighting the back and forth nature of the job between this college and district.
“When that decision was made, we found ourselves one office short, so the question was who do we put in the office where the vice president sat before and the decision was that we really should have the vice presidents of equal status,” Mrizek said.
“The vice president sitting right across the hall from the president, perception wise, is going to have more influence than the one who is down the hall and in another office,” he said.
Because of that, the vice presidents of academic success and student success offices were moved across the hall to the newly renovated public relations office.
Then the issue was where to put public relations, Mrizek said.
The office moved into the former location of the single vice president adjacent to the president’s office.
Mrizek said after Vela looked at the changes around the president’s office that, “significant architectural discrepancies” became apparent, because the president’s office hasn’t been touched since the building’s opening in 1972.
“It expanded (beyond its original costs) because we had the ability to do the whole thing and bring it all consistent across the board,” Mrizek said.