Washtenaw Community College’s Board of Trustees has approved a plan to repair $12 million worth of a $54 million deferred-maintenance backlog over the next five years.
“In terms of priorities, assuming the board will adopt the idea of mission-critical buildings, Morris Lawrence is our worst. It’s not so much an academic building, but it is primarily a community building,” said Damon Flowers, associate vice president of Facilities Development and Operations. “People who live and pay taxes here see that building more than any other. It’s like the front door of the college.”
Deferred maintenance is defined by the office of Facilities Management as postponing maintenance repairs on real property, such as infrastructure, and personal property, such as machinery, to save costs or to meet budget funding levels.
The types of damage on WCC’s campus include rusting pipes, potholes, and excessive cracks in pavement, or damages in walls, ceilings, foundations, or infrastructure. Buildings that are considered top priority include the Family Education building, which houses the Children’s Center, the Energy Center, the Health and Fitness Center, and the Morris Lawrence building.
Flowers said in March that there were no hazards pertaining to the deferred maintenance backlog, but confirmed at the June 26 board meeting that the problem needs to be addressed before safety becomes an issue. He also said that Washtenaw has never considered its deferred maintenance backlog an issue in the past.
“It needs to be a long-term solution; it’s kind of a moving target,” Flowers said. “We’re not that far out of whack, compared to other colleges.”
The facilities condition assessment, conducted by the maintenance and operations staff in 2011, covered all 20 buildings on campus, and included costs for replacement and repair.
The board agreed that the plan to repair all of WCC’s deferred maintenance is important enough to start this fall.
“Why wasn’t this done sooner?” asked Vice Chair Diana McKnight-Morton at the June 26 board meeting. “We are way behind the eight-ball on this.”