Beshear signs Ky. bond bill: Murray State to renovate Hester with public funds

Gov. Steve Beshear signed House Bill 7, the agency bonds bill allowing universities to self-fund needed projects on their campuses Thursday.

Beshear said the bill would allow for the creation of more than 5,100 jobs – all at no cost to the state’s General Fund.

“At a time when we are pushing our students to pursue higher education, it’s imperative that they have adequate classrooms, housing and facilities, and the issuance of these bonds will accelerate those projects to meet those needs quickly,” Beshear said.

According to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, House Bill 7 would authorize six of Kentucky’s public universities to issue agency bonds.

The bill states the projects would be funded by the universities’ own revenue intakes rather than state dollars.

The bill would also authorize bonding for projects at the University of Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, Morehead State, University of Louisville and Western Kentucky.

The bill would authorize agency bonding for a total of $15.4 million in renovations at Murray State, which are estimated to affect 2,828 students and create 200 jobs.

Out of the $15.4 million, Murray State would receive $9.9 million for renovations to Hester Residential College, $590,000 in upgrades to the sprinkler system at College Courts and $4.9 million in other assorted facility improvements.

The improvements at Hester will include replacing the current electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems, lavatory improvements, along with flooring, ceiling and lighting upgrades.

Kim Oatman, chief facilities officer of Facilities Management, said his office plans to begin the architectural and engineering work for these projects this spring and would hope to begin renovation of Hester sometime this summer. The College Courts sprinkler project will likely be completed in phases over the course of a year.

“All of the projects are in the beginning stages of planning by the universities, and construction for most projects will begin this calendar year,” Oatman said.

The renovations, which will take approximately 14 months, could begin as early as July 1.

The $590,000 fire safety renovation to College Courts could begin in July 2013 and would take approximately one year.

The other assorted projects should accommodate housing needs by June 30, 2014.

The planned projects include roof replacements at Hart Residential College and College Courts, hot water heater replacement, exterior repairs and renovations to College Courts.

Five residential colleges will have heating and cooling systems replaced and two residential colleges will have work done in order to retract asbestos from the buildings.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said officials met to determine what architect firm will manage the project.

“We’re going to be prepared for when students leave for the summer to evacuate the building, move furniture, get rid of the asbestos, gut the building and get ready for these folks to start working on,” Robertson said. “It has to be ready for students to move back into in the fall of 2014.”

Story by Meghann Anderson, News Editor.