The idea of moving forward is not only applicable to students but to the Plattsburgh State campus as well.
PSUC has been renovating their residence halls for the past few years at the pace of one building a year. The college also recently renovated Yokum Hall, bringing “new equipment, television and sound studios, editing labs and a bright updated look,” according to the PSUC website.
Among other construction projects, a brand-new mailroom in Mason Hall was designed to give on-campus students a universal location to pick up their mail.
“I’m so happy that they’re finally making renovations,” senior Ashleen Alberti said. “When I first came freshman year, it looked a little rundown … so I’m happy they’re finally redoing all the dorm rooms, slowly but surely, and the pond looks beautiful.”
Alberti, a hotel, restaurant and tourism major, said the residence halls need the most attention, the library “needs to be modernized” and Sibley Hall also needs some attention.
Director of Housing and Residence Life Stephen Matthews said there are many reasons for residence hall renovations. He said that the “first and foremost” reason is that “we have nice-looking places for our students to live.”
“(Out of) all of our residence halls, the newest one was built in the early ’70s,” Matthews said. “Besides paint and things we’ve done to clean them up a little bit, there hasn’t been a renovation.”
Global supply chain and marketing major Emily DeFrancesco said that although she enjoys her time in Macdonough Hall now, she spent last year in Wilson Hall as a freshman, and she said it was “absolutely awful” and she “hated it.”
“It’s just old … the paint was gross, there was asbestos in the ceiling — it was gross,” she said.
Matthews said in addition to making the buildings look nice, a key factor in these renovations is the removal of hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead-based paint.
While he said asbestos was a common building material in the ’60s and ’70s, and that it occurs naturally, he said it is only dangerous when airborne, though it is not commonly used in the building practices of the 21st century.
“If asbestos is left alone and it’s not friable or airborne, it’s fine,” Matthews said. “It’s the act of disturbing it that becomes the issue.”
He said part of these building projects involve contracts where a hazardous-material inspector tests the buildings for asbestos and other materials. When a hazardous material is found, he or she writes a report that gives details on its location, and construction crews safely remove the material.
However, Matthews said the main reason for these renovations is not to remove hazardous materials but to grant students a good quality of life.
Part of that, he said, is to ensure every renovated buildings is compliant with the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This ensures businesses provide access to their patrons, regardless of physical condition.
“We add in ADA-compliant bedrooms, bathrooms … to make this a friendlier campus,” Matthews said. “You could be living in an ADA-compliant bedroom and not know it.”
He said it doesn’t impact the average student to live in an ADA-complaint room, but someone who needs the service “has to have that room.”
Matthews also said they make “substantial savings” when it comes to heating buildings by way of insulation, new windows and “balancing” the buildings, which ensures an even flow of air coming in and out of the buildings.
Part of the renovations include redesigning the electrical plans of the new buildings.
“In Mason, on each wall there were two outlets; now there’s four on each wall. There’s more need for electricity in the residence halls than there was when they were built in 1968.”
Construction crews are currently renovating Moffitt Hall, which will be followed by Wilson, then Macomb, Whiteface, Kent, Banks and Adirondack Halls, respectively.
Over the summer, parts of Macdonough Hall were renovated as well.
At the pace of one residence hall per year, PSUC will face high renovation costs in the future.
Matthews said the current budget for Wilson Hall is around $16-17 million. The projected budget for Kent Hall is $8-9 million, although the numbers for Kent may be expected to change as time progresses.
“There’s a law in New York that says that no state taxpayer money can be used to support the residence halls on a SUNY campus,” Matthews said. “Any renovation work, the staff that works there, the heat — no state money can go into that.”
This means only one source of money can be used to support renovations: room rental costs.
“What students pay to live on-campus is the only way we have to fund the residence hall renovations,” he said.
Matthews said new amenities will help students feel more at home.
“We have some buildings that need some ‘wow,’” Matthews said. “The want to do it and the desire to do it are there for everybody, and it’s just a matter of being able to fund it all without putting it on your back.”
Email Timothy Lyman at firstname.lastname@example.org