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Shining a light on building maintenance

Although the campus is only now in the early stages of re-opening for certain classes, lots of repair and maintenance projects have been going on during the shutdown. Building maintenance is a great way to spend time and money. For example, WCC will be repairing the falling bricks over the east entryway to the Morris Lawrence Building. It will be nice to walk into the building without looking up. (Now that they’ve leveled the concrete in the entryway, you don’t have to look down, either.)

Without a doubt, building maintenance projects can be difficult to complete while the campus is in operation. At the same time, building maintenance is not optional. The longer you put it off, the more it costs.

Building maintenance priorities and the Neglect List

I noted two interesting items on the Neglect List. One is a “$75,000” lighting replacement project for the HFC Natatorium. (Actual cost: $26,800.) Lighting replacement is one easy way to reduce electricity costs. This is especially true if you’re moving from incandescent, halogen or fluorescent lighting to LED lighting. It’s usually a low-cost, high-reward project that can pay for itself in a relatively short timeframe. So far, so good.

The other interesting item on the Neglect List was the FEB Lighting Replacement Project. It caught my attention because it’s been deferred.


The FEB Lighting Replacement Project first hit the Neglect List in September 2018. At that time, it was also a “$75,000” project. But it was deferred.

It was supposed to have been done in FY 20, but it was deferred. It was supposed to have been done in FY 21, but again – it’s been deferred.

The project involves replacing non-LED fixtures with LED ones. It’s the same kind of project that the College has contracted a firm to complete for the HFC.

The HFC project has gotten approved because – well – it’s the HFC. The FEB project has gotten deferred because – well – it’s the Children’s Center.

Once again, HFC repairs, maintenance and upgrades take priority over repairs and maintenance to other buildings. Even when those other buildings are far more closely tied to WCC’s actual academic mission. Even when the project would save money.

I mean, it’s not as though WCC spends more money per cubic foot on utilities than any other community college in the State of Michigan. Oh, wait…

“Project Deferred” is French for “Wasting Money”

In the three years that the project has regularly been deferred, how much additional money has the College wasted on lighting costs at the FEB by retaining the old lighting fixtures? Never mind. It doesn’t matter; the taxpayers are paying for it.

You could argue that the HFC (allegedly) generates money for the College, so it “deserves” more attention. But so does the FEB! (At the moment, neither building is operating, so that point is moot.) And frankly, you could argue that every academic building on campus generates money. Therefore, they all deserve to be lovingly maintained.

Where the hell is the Board of Trustees? And why aren’t they asking these questions? How many years in a row does a money-saving project have to be deferred before a Trustee bothers to ask about it? Especially when the College is laying people off and cutting academic programs to cut costs?!

Imagine what the campus would be like if this Administration took care of every building the same way it attends to the HFC. What exactly does it take to get the Administration to take care of the buildings on campus in an equitable way?

(Besides Trustees who are paying attention.)

Photo Credit: theilr , via Flickr