Capital project funding requests center on campus safety concerns

December 1, 2012

Mayville State has identified two priority capital projects that have been approved by the State Board of Higher Education for funding consideration during the 2013 North Dakota Legislative session. In November, Vice President for Business Affairs Steve Bensen and I presented the projects to the Office of Management and Budget at a meeting held in Bismarck.

The first proposed project is to replace the Old Gymnasium with a 37,344 sq. ft. building that would replicate and expand the current functions of the Old Gym. It would also provide additional instructional lab/practice space needed due to enrollment growth. The state funding request for this project is $5,800,000. The Old Gymnasium has been given a "poor" condition rating in the Building Condition Report of Mayville State's Master Plan.

The Old Gymnasium, built in 1929, poses serious safety concerns. The replacement project moved to the top of our priority list when a rafter in the building collapsed. This, following two floor collapses, triggered an analysis that reconfirmed structural deficiencies, poor ventilation, outdated wiring and plumbing, the lack of a fire alarm system, and a lack of safe egress from the building. These safety concerns echo the State Board of Higher Education's number one shared priority - student and employee safety. The hazardous Old Gymnasium has become a critical concern and our architects have recommended that it be razed and replaced.

These safety issues come at a time when Mayville State University is experiencing record enrollment levels and our strategic plan projects significant further growth. MSU's enrollment in Health, Physical Education and Recreation-related majors has increased by 92.9% in the last five years. In 2011, Sports Management, Fitness and Wellness, Health Education, and Physical Education majors were the third most popular majors at Mayville State University, after only Business Administration and Elementary Education. Most of the students in these programs utilize facilities in the fieldhouse and Old Gym as lab or practice spaces as part of their classes or for out-of-classroom activities. Similarly, the number of student athletes is projected to increase 24% by 2015. Since we do not have separate facilities for academics and athletics, we must share space between academics and athletics and other campus events.

The second of Mayville State's state funding requests is for campus-wide drainage improvements. In the last legislative session, we were granted funding to conduct a drainage study that analyzed numerous safety issues stemming from poor drainage campus-wide. If awarded, the $2,267,000 requested in this legislative session would be used to address the drainage problems and improve the campus street and parking infrastructure.

Mayville State's flat topography is drained with minimally graded landscape areas directed to even shallower graded curb and gutter. Neither Mayville State nor the city has a storm sewer system in this part of town. All water ultimately discharges to a ditch that is severely undersized and drops only six inches in nearly a mile. Spring runoff becomes blocked by ice and snow, creating significant problems for pedestrian and vehicular traffic along Stan Dakken Drive and the nearby athletic and parking facilities. The road creates a negative opinion that affects student recruitment and puts public safety at risk.

There are also many areas interior to campus that experience problems associated with poor surface drainage. These drainage problems become hazardous in winter months due to significant sidewalk icing from building downspouts with no other means for an outlet. Standing water contributes to saturated street sub-grade conditions that, when exposed to the freeze-thaw cycle and heavy traffic loads, cause significant pavement and sub-grade failure of the street and parking facilities.

We will begin our funding request presentations to the legislature in January. We are hopeful that we will be successful in securing funding that will help us provide a safe a