Hancher decision delayed, recovery continues

Originally published in The Daily Iowan 6/12/2009

AMES — UI officials did not propose a new location for the Hancher complex at the state Board of Regents meeting Thursday, despite expectations to do so after the last conference in April.

UI President Sally Mason said the university has eliminated some of the eight possible sites that officials had considered, but they have added some new ones as well.

“It is critical we make the right decisions,” she said.

Doug True, the UI senior vice president for Finance, said relocating Studio Arts is more difficult than Hancher; officials are “reaching to resolves insurance issues,” he said.

True said he expects to present a plan for the Studio Arts Building at the next regents’ meeting, in August.

The decisions involve waiting to see which areas are available once portions of the area surrounding the river are raised to 1 foot above the 500-year flood line. Last summer’s floodwaters reached that point.

The presentation featured specific areas of the campus, such as portions of the sidewalks near the Theatre Building as well as well as the west side of the IMU, which faces the river.

True said the university’s plan will also include making the sidewalk wider, which could better accommodate trucks delivering sandbags and Hesco barriers should floodwaters rise to that height again.

As for renovating the IMU’s still-closed lower level, True said the Federal Emergency Management Agency hadn’t given the school the approval to do so.

“We cannot go back into the lower level because FEMA could walk away from us financially,” True said, “It likely wouldn’t fund us without a mitigation strategy.”

The university is working with the College of Engineering to develop plans for the IMU lower level as well as other buildings, such as Art Building West, promising the building would be “up and running soon.”

Other buildings on campus also remain in recovery mode. Along with moving all of mechanical equipment out of the basement of Mayflower Hall, the university is working on a terrace that will help protect the building from future flooding.

The university is still waiting for an expected $470 million from the federal government.

“Cash flow from FEMA has been slow,” True said. “We have to predict how FEMA will be running in that sense.”

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