Amidst a gradual buildup of loud and booming footsteps stomping above the second floor of the Midtown Student Center, many WCSU students can agree that it sounded like a ceiling collapse or two was inevitable. The WXCI Campus Radio office and the Student Center Gaming Room were two such locations that were unfortunate enough to have their ceilings collapse during the final weeks of the Fall 2014 semester (Thanksgiving week for WXCI and the first week of December for the Game Room).
For the past three months, the Beaulieu Roofing Company, based in Manchester, began the back-breaking task of replacing the roof of the Student Center. “We anticipated that this construction would take three to four months,” said Western’s Director of Facilities, Planning, and Engineering Peter Visentin. “We hired an architect to prepare the drawings and specifications on the new roof design. The drawings and specifications tell the contractors who bid on this that this is how we want this work done. This includes details on exactly how we want the roofing to be installed as well.”
Visentin’s role in the roof replacement project included numerous duties to fulfill. This involved overseeing the hiring of consultants, paying them, and making sure contractors and the architect work accordingly to specifications. “When I get the specifications and drawings from the consultants, I work with the purchasing department to make sure that it goes out to bid correctly.”
Visentin went on to explain how the contractors at Beaulieu Roofing Company received the job from campus. “The contractor is required to bid all of this through the Purchasing Department here at the university and the low bidder is brought in so we can ask a series of questions to make sure that he understands the scope of the work. After that is done, we issue him a contract which was $626,000.”
The Director of Facilities, Planning, and Engineering further stated that the presence of the project’s architect is usually required at weekly meetings so he can inspect the work of the contractors to insure that everything is done correctly. The office of the State Building Inspector is also required to be present in order to approve the specifications before they go out to bid. “There’s a bunch of checks and balances to make sure that the money that the university is spending is being spent correctly and the work is being installed properly,” Visentin continued.
“A lot of people were upset that they couldn’t hang out in such a fun spot,” said student employee Naiesha Jean-Claude who was working in the Student Center’s Game Room on the day the ceiling tiles came down due to the construction above. “It happened the week before finals and it kind of had a negative effect on my pay roll.”
“It looked pretty messy with fluids dripping from the ceiling. It was a hazard for both students and staff members, but we didn’t have it as bad as the radio office. Maybe the school should have done the construction before school started in the summer or during winter break,” Jean-Claude further stated.
Compared to the incident in the Game Room, the WXCI radio office dealt with a much more devastating blow when their ceiling tiles collapsed shortly before Thanksgiving. “One of our DJs, Darnell, came in for a show at 6 AM and the office had a few inches of water in it,” said Tom Zarecki, adjunct communications professor and faculty advisor to WXCI- 91.7 FM Radio.
According to Zarecki, ceiling tiles collapsed in all three rooms which included the Main Air Studio, a production room, and the main office for the radio station. “When Darnell came in, the station was already on the air. What some people don’t know is that WXCI runs for twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. When you come in, you are taking over from the automatic pilot that’s on when there’s nobody here.
“The water that was coming in was spilling the tables that contained most of our equipment such as microphones and speakers,” Zarecki commented when speaking on the damage done to WXCI equipment. “The carpet also needs to be replaced because of all the water that spilled from the ceiling. There’s mold growing underneath us as we speak.” The WXCI faculty advisor also stated that the university is still dealing with insurance companies for equipment replacement at WXCI. “Fortunately for the station, the computer that plays back all of the songs and announcements that we do is elevated off the ground in a cabinet. Although there were a couple of inches of water in here, computer didn’t shut off because it was a couple of inches off the ground, so that managed to keep going,” said Zarecki.
When asked about the estimated finish date for the project, Visentin stated that Beaulieu Company would be finished around the first week of February, if not sooner. The Director also ensured that the new insulation being installed for the Student Center would meet current state standards for building insulation. “The roof won’t have to be replaced again for another thirty years after the construction is finished,” said Visentin.