By Jason Shotwell/reporter

Campus has spent $1.2 million in 21 months since storm

Scaffolding and fencing still stand on NW Campus a year and a half after a wind and hail storm damaged the campus, and even though the college has already spent about $1.2 million, an assessment is still ongoing, an administrator said.

The board of trustees at its Nov. 14 meeting renewed a $356,257 contract with Chambers Engineering to keep the scaffolding on NW up for another year.

Scaffolding and structures fill the walkways between the WSTU, WTLO and WPHE buildings to protect students from overhead debris.
Scaffolding and structures fill the walkways between the WSTU, WTLO and WPHE buildings to protect students from overhead debris.
Photo by Tom Woessner/The Collegian

“I hope you’ll approve this to keep our students safe,” real estate and facilities vice chancellor Nina Petty said to the board before the agenda item passed.

A storm with winds gusting 60-70 mph blew through northern Tarrant County on March 8, 2016, National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Godwin said. The storm damaged the WSTU building, ripping bricks off its facade.

The trustees approved $192,127 for an assessment of the campus in May 2016. Two months later, they approved $220,884 to repair the damage.

However, the original assessment didn’t conclude until December 2016, which led the board to approve the rental and installment of scaffolding and panel fencing in January for $463,609, vice chancellor for communications and external affairs Reginald Gates said.

The board authorized the installation as a precautionary measure while a more detailed evaluation can be completed, Gates said.

“We won’t know the extent of the improvements until a complete evaluation is finalized,” he said but did not give a timetable for when the evaluation would be completed.

Students look at the pile of bricks that were ripped from NW Campus’ WSTU and WTLO buildings during a storm with heavy winds in March 2016. Twenty-one months later, an assessment is still being conducted.
Students look at the pile of bricks that were ripped from NW Campus’ WSTU and WTLO buildings during a storm with heavy winds in March 2016. Twenty-one months later, an assessment is still being conducted.
Collegian file photo

Gates apologized for any inconvenience but said no classes have been affected by the work to his knowledge.

The original lease of the scaffolding and fencing was set to expire at the end of the year, so the college extended the lease and regular maintenance an additional year while a long-term solution is developed, according to a board of trustees memo from the Nov. 14 meeting.

“If the current lease is not renewed, the scaffolding and fencing will need to be removed from the campus prior to Dec. 31, 2017,” according to the memo. “Northwest Campus will have major potential safety issues campus-wide requiring the closure of buildings egress or access.”

NW president Zarina Blankenbaker hopes those on campus will see past the distraction.

“NW Campus faculty, staff and students have an optimistic disposition and can see beyond the scaffolding and fencing,” she said.

Dylan Bradley contributed in the research.