ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
The next time an impromptu wrestling tournament breaks out in the courtyard of the Tabor College men’s quad, students watching from above will have a lovely wrought-iron railing to rest against while enjoying the action below.
More importantly, they’ll have a sturdy balcony under their feet-something the Kansas Department of Health and Environment determined last summer was no longer the case for residents of the 35-to-40-year-old dormitories.
“These men’s quad balconies were deemed by the state engineer to no longer be safe,” said Tabor president Larry Nikkel. “The steel had rusted away.”
A makeshift covering of wooden planks satisfied KDHE for last school year, as long as the balconies and stairways were entirely replaced-with new overhangs to protect travelers from slippery weather-by the close of this summer.
Commerce Construction Services Inc. of Wichita sank its metal teeth into the project two weeks ago. So far, the crew has ripped out the stairs, the balconies and a few other incidental parts of the buildings to be replaced.
Superintendent Steve Chriestenson said the crew plans to complete the project by Aug. 15, in time for Tabor students to make use of the new stairs and balcony to start moving in the following week.
Nikkel said the college didn’t plan to pull this much money for one renovation project from the college’s ongoing capital campaign for new and renovated student housing.
“The centerpiece of the capital campaign is the new townhouses,” he said of the $3.5-million, 76-bed complex slated to be completed by next fall along the west side of the 400 block of South Adams Street.
“We had enough in the campaign to know that we would have something left over for the men’s quad,” Nikkel added. “But we didn’t know we’d have to put that much into the balconies, so that changed.”
The project will eat up a large chunk of the $800,000 budgeted in the campaign for housing renovations.
While Nikkel said the balconies should be “reasonably attractive” with their wrought-iron railings and ornamental brickwork, he admitted it was money they’d hoped to spend on a part of the quad where students will spend more time-inside their mods.
“It’s kind of unfortunate that you have to spend that kind of money on balconies, versus doing something much more substantial, eye-catching and eye-pleasing inside,” he said.
“But, you know, it’s safety first, so we had to do this.”
He added the college will continue as it has for the past few summers to make smaller renovations inside the residence halls on a “mod-to-mod basis.”
“That’s mostly cosmetics-new showers, toilets, sinks, lights and paint,” he said.