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UW-W Carlson Hall project could be restored

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Kevin Murphy
December 17, 2009
— The State Building Commission on Wednesday recommended restoring a $17 million renovation project at UW-Whitewater cut from the state budget in June.

The renovation of Carlson Hall was the highest ranking project in the UW System not funded in the biennial budget, said David Miller, a UW System vice president.


The Legislature will have to approve the commission’s action, which would allow hiring an architect in May. The project would be bid in February 2011, and construction would begin in April 2011 and be completed in the summer of 2012.


Carlson was emptied in July when Hyland Hall opened as UW-Whitewater’s new College of Business Education. Plans were to renovate the structurally sound but technologically outdated Carlson to house the College of Letters and Sciences, which is spread among five facilities.


Carlson was cut from the 2009-11 capital budget, a victim of “too many projects and not enough money,” Peter Maternowski of the Division of State Facilities said last summer.


A competitive bidding climate has since resulted in four UW projects coming in $23 million under budget, allowing reconsideration of the Carlson project.


Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, said he was disappointed that Carlson didn’t make the capital budget and wanted to know the legislative procedure that would include Carlson.


State Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, wanted the commission to consider delaying Carlson’s renovation for two years, saying the money should be spent on deferred maintenance or a health science center at the UW-River Falls.


“If it was in my district, I’d push for it, too, but why not take a breath? Why not go after some of that deferred maintenance (the UW System) is always harping about? This isn’t political, but there are some choices to be made,” Kaufert told a commission committee.


Renovating Carlson now would remove about $17 million from the UW System’s approximately $106 million allocation for deferred maintenance, Miller said. Carlson is vacant, making it easier to renovate.


UW-Whitewater Chancellor Richard Telfer said Letters and Science faculty offices, many housed in former dormitories, are undersized and poorly ventilated.


Plans call for gutting the 37-year-old building, removing asbestos, installing new air handling systems, upgrading electrical and plumbing systems and making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


The concrete block exterior would get a facelift to better blend in with recently remodeled buildings and provide more natural light, Telfer said.


State Rep. Kim Hixon, D-Whitewater, who also pushed for the project, was pleased with Wednesday’s vote.


“I’m glad it is back in the budget. It’s certainly important to the university and our area because $17 million provides for quite a few jobs, and it’s a great economic shot in the arm,” Hixon said. “I look forward to getting it moving forward.”



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