Telford Hall will be shut down for the Fall 2019 semester for maintenance repairs, said Bob Brown, executive director of Housing and Residence Life on Thursday.
The purpose of the closure is to replace 14 sets of sanitary riser sewer pipes in a maintenance project that will cost about $1.12 million. The condition of the current risers has caused backups in some students’ rooms and necessitated housing to move residents, Brown said.
In addition, Keene Hall will close down for the Spring 2020 semester for maintenance work. Since Keene will likely see higher residency than usual as a result of Telford closing, the building will receive paint and brick work this summer, Brown said. Students living in Keene next fall can also move to Telford in the spring and still pay Keene housing rates.
“It’s going to require patience and understanding as we make that change to Telford, so we’re trying to give something back to help it be a little bit easier for students to get through,” Brown said.
Brown said the 123 students who signed up to live in Telford next fall will be allowed to relocate to halls of their choosing. Registration re-opened for those students on Thursday so they could claim a room before incoming freshman can register for housing Monday.
Housing almost went with a much different plan. Brown said they initially looked into replacing the risers incrementally over the summers, which would have likely taken four years and cost up to $1.6 million. Doing so would also run the risk of risers failing during the school year, Brown said.
The funds for the repairs will come out of the university’s deferred maintenance budget, which was around $2.04 million for the 2018-2019 year.
He said he hopes the savings from shutting Telford down in the fall and Keene in the spring will offset some of the costs of the repairs by over $750,000.
Officials from housing broke the news to Telford Hall students in a meeting in the lobby at 12 p.m. Thursday. Brown said that while the closure is inconvenient, housing is confident there will be enough spaces for every student next fall, despite a possible resident increase in every hall.
“That was one of the things we wanted to consider on the way in, was to make sure,” Brown said. “I think that we anticipate having about 4,300 students on campus in the fall, and we’ve got enough space for that.”
The timing makes things difficult for students who had planned to live there next fall.
“You plan your classes and your friends around where you’re going to stay,” said Justin Holder-Jones,18, a freshman computer science major from Louisville. “For this decision to come so late in the semester is throwing a lot of things off.”
Holder-Jones said that while he understands the need for the repairs, the timing makes it harder for students in living learning communities, or LLCs. Holder-Jones himself is in ROTC.
“It’s just hard having something planned out so far in advance, already having the money down for it, talking to your future roommat... and now that we have to leave Telford, it’s just so hard to plan in such short notice,” said Michael Tipton,19, a sophomore construction management major from Walford, Maryland.
Tipton said being from out of state makes it harder to plan around the dorm change. Tipton, his roommate and his girlfriend were planning on living on the same floor before Thursday. They met with housing afterwards to reserve a room in South Hall or North Hall, but both were full, he said. They eventually settled on a room in Burnam.
“It’s not our first choice, but it’s a good choice, I guess,” Tipton said.
Jaxon Burnhart, 19, a sophomore construction management major from Louisville was going to be Tipton’s suitemate. When he went to online to register after Tipton had, the site told him no rooms in Telford were available, he said. When he talked to employees from housing, he was told the same thing. But a few days later, his current roommate was able to reserve a room in the residence hall.
“And then we get the email saying that there are no rooms in Telford because of the construction that they’re going to do? What is that?” Burnhart said.
No residential assistant (RA) or residence hall coordinator (RHC) jobs will be lost in the process, Brown said. Telford’s RHC, Jake Long, will be temporarily reassigned to Walters while the hall’s RAs will be moved to Keene, Sullivan and other dorms around campus, Brown said. Long said Telford has 12 RAs.
The shutdown also has implications for Telford’s four LLCs. Three of those LLCs, Outdoor Pursuits, Colonel’s Barracks and First Colonels will be moved to Keene in the fall, said Lisa Mendenhall, assistant director of Living Learning Communities and Retention.
The fourth, Global Village, will be inactive next year as it will undergo a retooling process to improve as a resource for international students, Mendenhall said. Global Village will reopen in the fall of 2020 back in Telford.
Housing hosted another meeting with students Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. and Friday from 8 to 10 p.m. in Telford to answer students’ questions and get them registered for other residence halls.