New Union roof finishes just in time

Sara Bertsch Editor-In-Chief

Parts of The Union roof were replaced over the summer while students were gone. However, the project didn’t come without its share of problems.

The 20-year-old roof was nearing its end, said Keith Skogstad, the assistant director of The Union. The roof had several leaks during the school year, which kicked the project into gear.

The planning to replace the roof began two years ago, with bids this past March. The project began at the end of June during the summer and was completed a week before classes began.

The funds for the project came from the General Activity Fee, which contained a certain amount of money set aside each year for major maintenance repairs, said Jennifer Novotny, the executive director of The Union.

“It has been a wild ride,” she said. “One of the things to keep in mind is that we have a facility that has been expanded three times.”

The Union was built in 1970 and was ready for the public in 1971. The first major renovation was in 2005. They also held other major renovations more recently in 2010 and 2012.

Part of the ‘wild ride’ that Novotny talked about is the several complications that took place this summer. 

“We didn’t expect all of the rain, even though it was summer. We had some hard-core rain,” Novotny said. “It was a bit of a challenge for the company that we worked with.”

There were two incidences this summer in which major rains leaked into the building. One took place at the end of June. In the south part of The Union, the 150 office on Main Street was “nailed,” according to Skogstad. The ceiling tiles were ruined and the carpet was soaked.

Another incident took place in early August when a thunderstorm rolled through. A portion over the Lewis and Clark and State Room had rain leaking over the weekend.

The University Police Department noticed it after responding to an alarm in The Union. They found the water damage leaking into the catering kitchen due to a backed-up drain on the roof. It leaked into the second and first floor.

There was less damage than the first rain leakage in July. The contractor was called and the damage was fixed immediately. 

Also during the summer, there was a point where the staff was checking for asbestos in parts of the building. Two days later, it was confirmed there was no asbestos in the building.

“It’s almost a hidden memory…” Novotny said. “There are some areas that had potential asbestos. They just managed that area. We work with a solid team.”

The health of students and employees was one of the main concerns when working on The Union’s roof this summer. This and timeliness for the upcoming school year. 

“We are on the road for completion,” Novotny said. “Hopefully we won’t be doing any major repairs on the roof for 20 plus years to come.”