ENMU regents consider further infrastructure improvement

By Sarah Meyer, Freedom New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico University’s Board of Regents voted Friday to seek general obligation bonds to complete $11 million in infrastructure repairs.

Scott Smart, ENMU vice president for business affairs, described the repairs as “very urgent projects” as he reported the university’s five-year capital projects list.

“Each of these infrastructure needs is critical and could possibly result in failures that would require the university to close part or all of its campus,” Smart’s report stated.

Those repairs include an electrical distribution system upgrade to replace the current system, which is more than 30 years old. The university recently had to replace 3,750 feet of underground electrical lines, and in the past four years has had three major power outages because of partial system failures.

Work on Phase 1 of the $7 million project has begun, according to the report, with $3 million from the university’s building renewal and replacement funds.

A transformer station also needs to be upgraded to support ENMU’s energy needs, which will cost $500,000.

The remainder of the project will cost an estimated $4.5 million.

Improvements also are needed in the university’s heating, ventilation and cooling system. The current system involves two separate, campus-wide heating and cooling loops, originally built 40 years ago and altered over the years, according to the report.

The HVAC system is ineffective in adequately cooling and heating classrooms, offices and student housing, and Smart said leaks are developing in the water line for the heating system.

Phase 1 of this project has been completed at a cost of $3 million. The estimated cost to complete the renovation is $5 million.

HVAC improvements also are needed at Greyhound Arena, where the evaporative cooling system, installed in 1966, has corroded and rusted to the point that repairs will cost more than replacement, according to the report. Replacing the system will cost an estimated $1 million.

Regent Chad Lydick asked how this work would be funded.

ENMU President Steven Gamble said the report is submitted to the state Higher Education Department, which decides priority projects. HED’s list then goes to the governor, who presents the request to the Legislature.

“It doesn’t go anywhere unless it’s a GO bond year,” said Gamble. Nonetheless, the request is presented each year. The request could be included in the 2010 GO bond election.

The university isn’t likely to get any funding in 2009, Gamble said, explaining that a special appropriation from the governor is “a hard sell to get in.”

In other action, regents approved:

• Funding to build a weight training facility

• Funding to build a pole barn for the agriculture department

• Graduation lists for Portales and the Roswell and Ruidoso branches.