Renovation of FHSU's Memorial Union will begin soon

Pending final approval by the Kansas Board of Regents, an extensive renovation of Fort Hays State University's Memorial Union will begin later this fall.

Bids for the project were opened last week in Topeka, and Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, announced today that the contract would go to Paul Wertenberger Construction of Hays.

"We're very pleased that a local construction company was the successful bidder to become the general contractor," the president said. "Paul Wertenberger has done award-winning work for us previously, most recently the renovation of Albertson Hall and construction of the Stadium Place condominium complex. This project will be a tremendous boon to the local economy, because the subcontractors also are local companies."

The Glassman Corporation and RDH Electric, both of Hays, will be the mechanical/plumbing and electric subcontractors, respectively.

The winning base bid was $6.27 million, plus alternates of $617,400 for a variety of additional work including replacement of windows throughout the building, installation of a new roofing membrane and cleaning of exterior masonry. The total of $6,887,400 exceeded the program budget of $5.81 million.

"Because the bids came in higher than the estimate, the project must receive board approval," President Hammond explained.

Dana Cunningham, director of facilities planning, said bonds for the project were expected to become available Nov. 10, with construction to begin soon thereafter. The contract calls for the project to be completed in 590 calendar days, so Cunningham said he expected the finish date to fall somewhere in June 2007.

Because of the scope of the project, construction will cause disruption to services in the Memorial Union. Cunningham noted that those disruptions also would affect three non-university entities -- the Barnes & Noble University Book Store, Chartwell's Food Service and Commerce Bank -- that are housed in the Memorial Union.

"They will see great benefits when the project is finished, but they will have to endure some tough times during construction," Cunningham said. "I try to encourage people to focus on the end result."

Bill Smriga, Memorial Union director, will have primary responsibility for taking the facility through the disruptions. He and his staff have been planning for more than a year to make the transition as smooth as possible.

"During the renovations, certain areas will be closed to the public," Smriga said. "Particular entrances may be closed, and parking may be limited due to construction-related activity."

Smriga said the Memorial Union staff would provide updates about construction progress through a special Web site -- -- and through the use of e-mail, public notices and signage.

"We also will do our best to inform everyone about specific disruptions of the facilities and services," he said. "We appreciate your understanding, because 'business as usual' will not be the case during the renovation process."

Highlights of the renovation include: a new student lounge and performance area; an expanded Student Health Services area; an expanded University Bookstore area; expanded Student Government Association and University Activities Board office areas; renovation of the existing cafeteria; a new building entrance on the west adjacent to the street and public parking; introduction of wireless connectivity throughout the building; visual connectivity between the ground level and the lower level; replacement of existing HVAC/mechanical systems; a visual screen between the west entrance and the loading dock; an enhancement of the east entrance courtyard on the Quad; a redesign of the west entrance drive and drop-off area; and replacement of segments of deteriorated mechanical piping.

In addition to the various aspects of the renovation, a separate contract also was approved for asbestos abatement in the Memorial Union. "That came in under budget," Cunningham said. "The winning bid was $247,000, and the budget was $285,000."

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