New Public Safety Building remains on hold

Tamarra Newbern, News Reporter

The new Public Safety Building at UIS, slated to offer campus police a more up-to-date facility, received appropriations in 2011. However, due to the financial crisis in the state of Illinois, its future is uncertain.

The current center that houses campus police is an old farmhouse located in an area separate from the center of the rest of the UIS campus.

In a March 10 interview, Chancellor Susan Koch stated, “you all know where public safety is located now and [it’s] an inadequate facility and unfortunately like many other state projects, that project, which is really a small project, but it’s stuck in the pipeline of the budget crisis and we haven’t really heard anything about it for a while.”

Koch further stated that the university has not asked about the status of the project.

“We know better than to ask, frankly because we know it’s not going anywhere,” Koch said.

UIS Police Chief Don Mitchell stated, “The ‘farmhouse’ has been outdated for many years, we are not [wheelchair] accessible, and the communication center is far from the rest of the campus.”

Mitchell further stated that the farmhouse was sold to the university by farmers that once lived there. It is located next to a pond, which he believes the staff doesn’t mind.

Yet the lack of updated material and location for residence of the campus can be seen as a setback for the police department.

UIS spokesperson Derek Schnapp stated, “if you are aware of the old farmhouse that the campus police department operates in now, you can see how badly it is needed. Better technology, space, additional resources, are a part of what would be included in the new public safety building”

Chuck Coderko, director of construction at UIS, stated in a university press release in 2015 that “the governor stopped everything and it was put on hold pending funding.”

Therefore any construction projects that were supposed to begin were put off – even if they had already broken ground.

The new Public Safety Building’s location would be located west of TRAC on Eliza Farnham Drive.

“It would be approximately 10,000 square feet and have multiple rooms and gates to ensure safety,” Mitchell stated.

The $5.3 million projected already awarded bids for the construction, but “that was a long time ago,” Mitchell stated.

Due to the delay, the university likely will have to conduct another bidding process; therefore, Mitchell isn’t sure if the cost will be the same anymore.

If the bids are not secured at the same amount, the university may have to request more money from the state.

Coderko stated in 2015 that the Capital Development Board can request contractors to honor bids from the past and sometimes they uphold the previous bids.

Having the new Public Safety Building near TRAC could be seen as improving accessibility for students and police officers on campus.

As for the farmhouse, Mitchell stated in an interview that “if the new Public Safety Building comes to campus, it seems that it can be turned into an open space for student organizations or office spaces for students and or staff to access.”

Mitchell mentioned that the farmhouse has been there for many years and he doesn’t think it should be torn down, but instead utilized in the best possible way.