$91.5 million later, the Buley Library project reaches completion
Anisa Jibrell – Special to the Southern News
After a nearly 11-year-long stretch peppered with delays and litigation, Hilton C. Buley library’s renovations have finally reached completion.
The total funding for renovations to the old library plus the new addition amounted to $91.5 million, according to an email message from Robert Sheeley, Southern’s associate vice president of capital budgeting and operations.
The construction project breaks down into two phases.
Phase I consisted of the 135,000 square foot addition, costs reached $51.2 million. Renovation to the old library, or Phase II, totaling 98,000 square feet costed roughly $40.3 million, Sheeley confirms.
“This truly is an energizing, and exciting time for Southern,” said President Mary A. Papazian, as she addressed the crowd at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Monday in celebration of the project’s completion.
Among the key note speakers was deputy commisioner of the state Department of Construction Services, Pasquale Salemi. Who, at the ceremony, credited himself with resurrecting the project in 2011 along with assistant director of project management, Emilio Pizzoferrato.
“In 2009, we had run out of money, we had run out of time, and we had run out ideas on how to fix this,” said Salemi.
Salemi said what was intended to be the focal point of campus ended up being an “eyesore” and “a depressing perspective for students, faculty, and staff.”
“What you see here represents a second chance,” said Salemi.
The Buley project first gained momentum in Fall 2004 shortly after recieving a grant for $61.7 million from the State Bond’s Commision, according an August 2004 monthly report compiled by the Department of Public Works.
Fast forward two years and three months.
A high-pressure water main was disturbed by the digging of a parallel trench. Sending millions of gallons of water into the library’s basement, according to court documents that give us a glimpse into the web of legal battles that would follow.
Southern severed its ties with the project’s contractor Pike Company of Rochester, NY and was awarded a little over $6 million in property damages on March 2007 by its insurer Factory Mutual Insurance, court records show.
The project came to a standstill.
According to SCSU library director, Christina Baum, in 2008, Southern’s new addition was open for operation, however, the new addition exceeded the capital budget, and money had to be reallocated from other projects in order to finish.
Capital budgeting involves the funding of long-term projects, like roads, bridges, infrastructure, and in this case the Buley project. A capital budget can exist at a state or local level.
$16.3 million was reallocated from two projects — the new academic laboratory building/parking garage and infrastructure improvements — to go towards the new expansion, according to an act concerning the reallocation of funds within the CSUS Improvement Plan.
The CSUS Improvement Plan is Connecticut State University System’s long-term capital infrastructure investment plan that was launched by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell in July 2008.
“It was very frustrating, and it took a lot of patience,” said Baum. “But even though we were smaller we kept up full-service to our faculty and students. Students are why we’re here. To serve the students and do the best we can.”
Baum said she credits Papazian for truly moving the building project forward to its completion.
“I think it is great that we finally have a new renovated building that’s taken into consideration some of the needs of the student today, rather than the student 40 years ago,” said Rebecca Hedreen, reference librarian.
A new change students and faculty can expect to see is the Academic Success Center which is scheduled to relocate to the 3rd floor of Buley which includes, the writing center, tutorial help, and other offices in student support.
“Students look so happy to have this,” said Baum, “and it’s a space that was much needed.”
Multimedia Contributor: Laura Gustafson
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