By Molly Igoe
Elm Staff Writer
Washington College has recently implemented a program concerning deferred maintenance called A Systematic Plan for Infrastructure, Renewal, and Efficiency (ASPIRE). It is a comprehensive plan that, over the course of a few years, will improve dorm buildings and any other campus buildings that need to be updated. Deferred maintenance refers to postponing maintenance activities to save costs according to The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Mark Hampton outlined the general goals of the ASPIRE program. He said, “This project is going to deal with dorms, humidity, mildew, updating and refreshing classrooms- a whole myriad of issues.” Hampton said that he and Interim President Jay Griswold noticed serious problems six months ago with humidity and mildew in many dorms as well as buildings like the Casey Academic Center, Johnson Fitness Center, and Toll Science Center.
The ASPIRE program is still in the planning stages, but Hampton said that the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors has agreed to invest $25 million in the project, which will take approximately six to seven years to complete. Reid Raudenbush, director of the physical plant said, “The timeline for this renovation process will start this summer, so buildings can come offline, and by the following summer, the next cycle of buildings will be renovated.”
Raudenbush said, “The main focus of the deferred maintenance will be on residence halls, which will involve longer renovations, spanning about nine to 10 months for older dorms.” During the time that these dorms are being fixed, two feasible options are being considered to accommodate students.
The first option outlined by Raudenbush would be to build a third building behind Chester and Sassafras, the current location of the volleyball court. A second option under consideration is having a third party come in to build an apartment building on campus. This way, the College would buy it after a few years from the company for a good price.
The overall renovation strategy will include phases. A cohesive group of buildings, like the Western Shore for example, will be worked on at the same time, then the next cycle of buildings will be renovated until all of the buildings are improved.
Although minor renovations have been performed on some of the residence halls during the past few summers, this project will be the largest and most comprehensive one yet. Raudenbush said, “Primarily, we want to focus on improving the environment inside these buildings, and if energy can be saved with LED lighting and new technology, that is an added bonus.”
Hampton said deferred maintenance is the most realistic option for WC because, “Instead of cutting people we are able to cut expenses and save money during this period of recovery after the recession.” This strategy will help save money over time.
Hampton emphasized the importance of this project as an issue that affects all the students on campus. “I think it is important for students to be involved; we don’t want fixing these problems to create more problems.”