Projects include new gym floor, exterior improvements to Owen Hall, and infrastructure upgrades

    The University of Minnesota Crookston is seeking just under $4 million in facilities improvement and repair projects in the Minnesota Legislature’s capital investment “bonding” bill.

    The $3,989,472 request for projects on the Crookston campus is part of the University of Minnesota’s system-wide request that the legislature this year fund $200 million in projects under the Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) umbrella. The overall request encompasses more than 165 projects involving more than 100 buildings at the five campuses.

    The requested funds for UMN Crookston involve:

    • Floor replacement in Lysaker Gymnasium: The UMN Crookston proposal states that the floor boards have shifted and gaps have formed, creating safety hazards. In the proposal, UMN Crookston senior and guard for the Golden Eagles women’s basketball team, Stephanie McWilliams, states that the new floor is needed to prevent injuries to student-athletes and to enhance recruiting efforts.

    • Exterior facade, window and door replacement in Owen Hall: The building was constructed in 1909 and houses research and teaching labs on the Crookston campus. Many windows in the building are no longer functional and are screwed shut for the safety purposes, the proposal states. There is no air-conditioning in that area of the building, so it gets extremely warm. Faculty member Rob Proulx in the proposal says “Having only one functional window out of three in my classroom limits ventilation and makes for a poor learning environment.”

    • Campus-wide electric distribution infrastructure: This is the final phase of a project to replace and upgrade aged and failing transformers, sectional cabinets and underground cable.

    • Campus-wide natural gas distribution: The system’s piping is more than a half-century old in many sections and needs to be modernized, the proposal states.

    Mike Miller, U of M legislative advocacy coordinator, discussed the projects this week at a Legislative Kickoff Breakfast in UMN Crookston’s Bede Ballroom, before an audience of around 20. Overall in 2020, the U of M system is seeking $317.2 million in bonded projects on the five campuses that would include a match of $58.6 million from the University.

    Miller said state funding of the U of M has been flat over the past two decades, with the University receiving less money in “real dollars” in 2019 than it did in 2008.

    Miller gave UMN Crookston students and staff, alumni and community and regional stakeholders several options to get the word to their legislators that the capital investment needs are real on the Crookston campus and the four other U of M campuses. The whole process is designed to make it easy and convenient for people to get their message across to legislators, Miller said. In less than a minute, he said, people can be advocates for U of M dollars in the 2020 bonding bill.

    People can visit z.umn.edu/BeHeard and z.umn.edu/MyLegislator and z.umn.edu/Kickoff20 for more information, and can tweet @UMNAdvocates and use #RenewUMN.

    Support the U Day at the State Capitol in St. Paul is March 26, Miller noted, adding that it’s especially appreciated when UMN Crookston advocates make the trip down.