Barge Hall damage now estimated at $1 million

Jackson Sorensen, Staff Reporter

The damage caused by a broken pipe in Barge Hall is now estimated to cost over $1 million dollars in repairs.

This number is twice as much as early estimates of the damage. After the flooding, university officials estimated that as much as $500,000 damage was done, though they said it could be either significantly above or below that number.

The costs include an industrial hygienist, who would help navigate where to investigate for damages and assess the overall situation of Barge Hall. The cost also covers the selective demolition that has already occurred.

Barge Hall flooded over Presidents Day weekend as a result of a drastic drop in temperature and strong winds. At around 1 a.m., the sprinkler systems on the fourth floor of Barge Hall malfunctioned which resulted in severe flooding throughout the entire building. Up to three inches of water covered some of the rooms in the building.

Delano Palmer, the director of capital planning, is helping oversee the repair process. He, and his team immediately started working on an estimate, assuming the worst case scenario.  

“We submitted an estimate of OFM [Office of Financial Management] for emergency funding for $1,030,000. This would cover the interior repair,” Palmer said. 

Before repairs could start, consultants had to determine if the water exposure would leave any permanent damage either to the superstructure of the building or the foundation, or cause spores or mildew.

“This building is historic and we want to keep it historic,” Palmer said.

After the incident, Shane Scott, the associate vice-president of campus planning and facilities management, and his team did a check of the mechanical spaces around campus to check for any similar issues. 

“We do walkthroughs of buildings routinely to check for leaks, especially when there’s no one on campus,” Scott said. “This situation was based on the mortar of the building becoming eroded, along with the cold air and wind hitting the building just right.”

Palmer said as part of the emergency request, some necessary changes would have to be put into place before next winter, in order to mitigate any similar situations from happening. 

Kremiere Jackson, the vice-president of public affairs, said Barge Hall needs to be sustained for a long period of time, as it is an important part of the university.   

“Barge Hall is an anchor when you look at Central and Ellensburg as a whole,” Jackson said. “We look at that as the anchor to who and what we are. It’s the face of our university.”

The ongoing pandemic has partially impacted the repair process, according to Palmer and Scott.

“One of the things that we are not starting to see is the impact on some global supply chains,” Palmer said. “Some of it is attributed to COVID and some of it seems to be attributed more on the global-political climate that we’re currently in.” 

Scott and Palmer said internal repairs should be completed by July 1. They are hoping to have external repairs done by the end of summer.