UA plans to spend deferred maintenance money on disability access
A sign outside of the Chemistry building giving instructions for a wheelchair-accessible location. A report sent to the Board of Regents recommended a $311 million maintenance budget for 2017.
Utilizing legislative dollars, the University of Arizona has made disability access a line item in its 10-year deferred maintenance spending plan. Currently, the UA plans to devote more than $1 billion toward deferred maintenance over a 10-year period.
“A couple of students came to my office and addressed the fact that there are a lot of accessibility access problems on campus,” Matt Lubisich, Associated Students of the University of Arizona president, said.
Lubisich went to the Disability Resource Center to discuss the student body’s requests. The DRC is examining buildings for Americana with Disabilities Act compliance and maintenance needs.
The DRC has readily pursued funding to address the problems with accessibility on campus. Lubisich shared this consensus with UA facility management.
“[Facility management] is 100-percent on board, and I shared with them the Disability Resource Center’s analysis,” Lubisich said. “They asked for my help.”
Recognized areas of maintenance include repairs to HVAC systems, heating and cooling units, ventilation, plumbing, water leakage and pipe insulation. Additionally, facility management will be making sure buildings are up to safety codes.
The Veterinary Science and Microbiology building, referred to as “Building 90,” will be among the first buildings to receive renovations. This 50-year-old building will require repairs costing an estimated $18 million.
The UA’s maintenance plan will utilize funds from the $307.5 million capital development plan for the 2018 fiscal year. The Arizona Legislature appropriated $10.5 million to the UA for projects reviewed after April 15.
“We have tracked our deferred maintenance needs on an annual basis, and we know it’s a huge issue because we have not gotten the funds from the state to address this maintenance,” said Chris Kopach, facilities management assistant vice president.
Each year, Kopach conducted an annual report in cooperation with a third party company to assess maintenance needs on campus. The last report sent to the Board of Regents recommended a $311 million maintenance budget for the 2017 fiscal year.
“We work really closely with our disability resource center to say what needs improvement on campus and develop a five- to 10-year ADA upgrade plan,” Kopach said.
Complete funding is still awaiting approval from Arizona’s state representatives. Kopach’s team is working closely with these individuals to accelerate the process.
“Knowing this is a critical need on campus, we are getting everything ready to go so that we can have a really nice kickoff,” Kopach said.
The DRC works to ensure campus spaces and environments are accessible to all students and has been working closely with facilities management for months.
“We are trying to prioritize based on frequency of use, traffic and the way these spaces are utilized,” said Amanda Kraus, the DRC director. “This will create a plan that we hope can be built into the facilities management deferred maintenance funding budget.”
The center works closely with students to meet individual needs. Kraus aims to be proactive in building repairs, but with a lack of funding, sometimes retrofitting or moving a classroom for a specific student is the only option available.
“We make sure that each individual has an inclusive experience,” Kraus said.
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