Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Administration Addresses Gintz Demolition

From the Houstonian:
In a meeting yesterday with residents of Gintz Family Apartments, university officials attempted to address some of the concerns raised by tenants who were informed weeks earlier of the upcoming demolition of their current home.

Houstonian: Farrington to undergo more renovations

From the Houstonian:
The Farrington building will get more of a facelift than originally anticipated. Barlett Cocke Contractors was awarded an $18 million contract on Nov. 19. $2.5 million will go toward further renovation of the 45-year-old building.

Barlett Cocke Contractors has worked extensively within the academic and medical community. They were able to present a bid that was $3 million under what was expected for the construction of a new science building and renovation of one-quarter of the Farrington Building. The savings will provide the funds needed for the renovation of the entire building.

The renovations are planned for the Christmas and summer breaks. Construction began in March 2004 on the building to be the new home to the chemistry and forensic science departments. The work on the construction of the 62,000-square foot science building is expected to be complete by May 2005. Renovations to Farrington should be completed by January 2006, which will continue to house the physics department.

The original cost of the Farrington Building when it was built in 1959 was $2.5 million. "There was originally a small observatory on the roof that was used for astronomy classes but an increase of light from the expanding university and community eventually made the telescope obsolete," according to
Hey, that's us....

Gintz Demolition Addressed By Administration

Sam Houston State University officials announced Monday that the demolition schedule for the Gintz Family Apartments has been extended by 10 days, and the university will have space available for displaced residents in another campus housing unit. The move out date has been set for June 10 instead of June 1.

The announcement came at a meeting called to address some of the concerns raised by tenants who were informed weeks earlier of the upcoming demolition of their current home. James Gaertner, university president, said that demolition of the Gintz Apartments would take place immediately following the end of the Spring 2005 semester.

"It is our intention, and we are quite certain that this is going to happen, that we will demolish the Gintz Apartments this summer," said Gaertner. "At present it looks like they will be demolished after June 10."

The move out date has been postponed from its original date of June 1, as Heather Thielemann, vice president for enrollment management, said that the university wanted to "be aware of when Huntsville ISD lets out and so that [students] are done with finals to give [them] time to move."

The university has worked to provide assistance to the residents of Gintz who may be having problems finding suitable, affordable living arrangements.

" The options that we have worked out at this time, are for families to move over to Colony Apartments," said Gaertner. "There will be an increase in rent of about $100 a month but you would be able to live in Colony for the year."

Thielemann said that the rent increase is necessary because that is the rate charged to students already living in Colony.

Gaertner stated the demolition of Gintz is timely and necessary.

" The reason for doing it, I think, is obvious. The apartments are getting to be old and pretty hard to keep up," he said. "They are old enough that when I was a graduate student, my wife and I lived in the Gintz Apartments."

Gaertner said that the university decided the apartments have safety issues because of their age and that their renovation would not be cost effective. And while the university does have plans to replace Gintz with newer housing, there is nothing definite at this time.

"We are not certain about what is going to happen, but it is our intention to build student housing where Gintz is and either somewhere or in close proximity to build some other family housing. We don't have it approved by anyone yet. So we must get the approvals before we can do any of this," said Gaertner.

Thielemann also said that modifications would be made to the Colony Apartments to accommodate families with small children.

" We will put child protective [barriers] on the bottom floors for families who have small children," she said. "The porches will be what you consider childproof as well as a play area with the existing play equipment at Gintz. Those are the things that will be going on, though we have not yet set a start date for them."

Friday, November 19, 2004

$2.5 Million Farrington Renovation Approved

A $2.5 million project to continue renovation of the Farrington Building was approved Friday by Sam Houston State University's governing board. The Texas State University System Board of Regents took the action during a regular quarterly meeting held in San Marcos. James F. Gaertner, SHSU president, told the regents that Sam Houston State decided initially to renovate only about one-quarter of the Farrington Building, pending receipt of bids on that renovation and construction of a new science building nearby. With a bid savings of approximately $3 million, the university can now afford to renovate the remainder of Farrington. A portion of the work will be done during the upcoming December holidays, and the remainder this coming summer.

The board also authorized the awarding of a contract, prior to the next scheduled board meeting, for construction of a $2.4 million Visitor's Center. If an acceptable bid is received in December, a contract could be awarded in January. The Visitor's Center, located near the Estill Classroom Building, will provide space for greeting visitors, private conference areas, offices and support space for staff, as well as offices for Alumni Relations.

In other business, the board authorized the university to enter into a contract with Dabhi Engineering Associates, Inc. of Katy, to design a backup air conditioning and emergency generator system for the computer server room in Academic Building I. That project is expected to cost about $350,000.

Houstonian: Expansion forcing families to move

From the Houstonian:
Security and safety are two things that everyone wants for their family. But for many of the residents of Gintz Family Apartments on campus, it is something they may soon be deprived of courtesy of university expansion.

Three weeks ago the families of Gintz were informed by Residence Life Director Joellen Tipton that all residents must be vacated by May of 2005 for the demolishing of the complex. It is rumored (though no official word has been given) that the space will then be used for brand new dormitories to compensate for the planned demolishing of Smith-Kirkley Hall. This leaves over 30 families with no options and no place to go.

The biggest complaint that many residents have is the unexpectedness of the announcement and the relatively short span of time between when they were informed and when they will be forced out.

"It's not a surprise to anyone who lives here," said senior Jim Massey, a single father. "What is surprising is that 'wham,' all of a sudden there's talk of demolishing the place, even though it is not anywhere on the two year plan. Gaertner just made the decision that it's going to go in the spring, and then nothing has been decided where the families who are living here are going to go."

Despite repeated efforts to contact officials on various levels, no one from the university was available for comment.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Houstonian: HKC expansion makes progress

From the Houstonian:
The HKC is expanding its recreational facilities and the improvements being made are still making progress. However, due to weather conditions, the expected date to finish the project has been pushed back.

"In 2004, we've had more rain than we've ever had, so now we're three months behind schedule," Director of the Department of Recreational Sports Keith Jenkins said. "We're probably looking at early summer for when the project will be specifically done."

Even though many "rain-affected days" have held back construction from its expected completion of early 2005, the concept of the project has not changed from its original parameters and will still include a 10,000-square foot weight and fitness room, an outdoor heated swimming pool, a 34-foot climbing wall, changing rooms, access to indoor track and a new entry and lounge.

"The concept of the building isn't changing, the rain is just pushing it back," Jenkins said. Students are excited about the new additions even though it has taken longer than expected.