Riverland seeks $3 million for building work

Published 9:21 am Friday, August 12, 2011

If Minnesota State Colleges and Universities receives a capital bonding request from the state for the 2012 year, Riverland Community College in Albert Lea may receive more than $3 million for building upgrades.

The project is 20th in priority on the list of 26 projects. MnSCU will request more than $277 million for construction and remodeling projects from the Legislature, which is the system’s smallest request in six years.

Riverland President Terry Leas said the funding would help renovate, demolish and reconfigure parts of the Albert Lea campus.

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“We would renovate a little over 21,000 square feet of existing instructional and student space,” Leas said.

Leas said the Gateway Building, a 7,700-square-foot building to the south of the main building, would also be demolished because it’s in “terrible condition,” and it’s not in use. The campus would also lease 4,200 square feet to the Workforce Center, which Leas said would be a good partnership.

“Their clients can work with our staff and be referred to educational programs,” Leas said.

Heating and air conditioning systems would also be upgraded, which would help improve energy efficiency. Leas said the funds would eliminate a $2 million backlog of deferred maintenance.

“It’s been on our list for years,” Leas said.

He said many buildings in the MnSCU system are around 40 years old, meaning HVAC systems and lighting aren’t very energy efficient.

“New technology is so much more energy efficient, which translates into savings for taxpayers and students,” Leas said.

The first priority on the project list is $110 million in repair and replacement projects of roofs and mechanical and electrical systems on nearly all 54 campuses in the system. Legislators are expected to visit campuses around the state this summer and fall to become familiar with the requests. The projects chosen were just a few of the $700 million in requests by institutions in the MnSCU system.

Upcoming projects at the Albert Lea and Austin campuses

Riverland’s campuses in Albert Lea and Austin will soon be receiving some facility upgrades and have already gotten bids on the projects. Leas said the school is waiting to learn about funding before starting the projects.

One of the three projects would be to spend around $150,000 to remove a rooftop air handler and upgrade HVAC systems at Austin’s West Building. Another of the projects will be to continue upgrading HVAC systems in Albert Lea for around $140,000. The final project would be to upgrade electrical distribution in Austin and Albert Lea, costing around $350,000.

“It’s not very glamorous stuff, but it’s important,” Leas said. “It’s important for maintaining an environment that’s conducive to teaching and learning.”