Facilities plans repairs to leaks around campus
By Emma Lyons
Arts & Features Editor
Patricia Whitney, assistant vice president of Facilities and Capital Planning, said her department is planning to fix leaks in May Hall and the Henry Whittemore Library that were discovered following heavy rains in September.
However, leaks in the entryway and lobby of the McCarthy Center that occurred during the same September rainstorms are not currently scheduled for repair because they haven’t been reported through a work order, according to Whitney.
“I spoke to our operations director and he does not have any current work orders for leaks in the main entrance to McCarthy,” she said in an email.
Leaks have been documented on the fourth floor of May Hall by the elevator and within May Hall 403, and in the library’s Archives Room and the Special Collections Room.
During the week of Sept. 23, separate construction vendors came to campus to inspect the leaks in May Hall and the library in order to determine what repairs need to be made.
The Facilities Department plans first to make a temporary repair to May Hall, then make renovations to the library, and then work on a permanent fix for May Hall.
Whitney said it was determined that the biggest leak in the library was caused by water penetration through the brick wall on the “far left side” of the building.
“We have to follow certain bidding procedures for anything over $10,000. So a lot of times when we have a repair, we call in a vendor - if it’s something that is beyond our capability that our own guys can do - we’ll call in a contractor and we keep our fingers crossed it’s under $10,000,” she said.
These repairs to the library would cost more than $10,000, which means Facilities will need to hire an architect to design a construction specification, which explains the work that is needed to make repairs. “The architect will also help us [Facilities] develop cost estimates so we can request funding,” Whitney said.
She added mold testing is done on a routine basis within the library. There is a higher risk of mold developing in the library because of its structure.
Millie González, dean of the library, said there have always been leaks in the library. The current leaks are in the Special Collection Room and within the Archives Room. These rooms contain and preserve historical documents pertaining to Framingham State.
She said the leaks are “extremely concerning” because water could damage items that cannot be replaced.
“We always have a supervisor on call,” she said. The library staff also works with the maintainers within the building to ensure there are buckets beneath the leaks, González said.
“We have maintainers in the library and they’re wonderful - they’re amazing,” she said.
“The remedy can’t come any sooner, but I understand that this is something that’s a continuing problem that Facilities just has to have a plan for,” González said.
Charlotte Fabrizi, a freshman elementary education major, said, “Obviously, books are important, so you don’t want to hurt them with water.”
Lauren Martinek, a freshman American Sign Language major, said, “I think they should do something about that soon since it is important documents. You can’t really just replace an old important document, especially if it’s the only copy they had.”
Mya Jones, a freshman psychology major, said,“Where [the leaks are] happening is very important. So, I feel like they should be addressed quickly.”
The architect who will help develop the specification for the library will also help develop an additional specification for May Hall in order to make permanent repairs that would cost more than $10,000.
In the meantime, a temporary repair to the May Hall roof can be made because the cost will be under $10,000.
Because the construction vendor is not able to begin work until mid-October, Facilities is bringing in another vendor to see if temporary repairs to the May Hall roof can be made sooner.
If interior repairs are needed, classes within the area of the leak will be temporarily relocated if they would be interrupted, Whitney said. Exterior leak work will not interfere with classes.
Stephanie Grey, professor of graphic design, said the leak in the graphic design room has been dripping out of a light fixture in the center of the room.
She said the leak coming from an electrical source makes her “a little bit nervous.” A bucket has been placed in the room to catch the water, but “water splashes outside of the barrel and makes the floor wet,” she said.
Paul Yalowitz, chair of the Art and Music Department, said there is a leak on the fourth floor of May Hall outside of the elevator. This leak has been dripping consistently since the Spring 2022 Semester and has now spread into the graphic design room.
Yalowitz said the leak by the elevator has caused water damage to the ceiling and the walls around the leak as well. “If we have prospective students come to the school and they see this damage, it’s not a great advertisement.”
He said while there have already been incidents of students and faculty slipping in puddles, no one has fallen to his knowledge.
Repairs were made to May Hall in the summer and fall of 2021 that were focused on the most damaged parts of the roof, Whitney said.
Facilities did not have the money to make repairs to the whole roof when these initial repairs were made, she added. The department decided to focus on the areas that were most affected.
Daniel Munoz, a junior studio art major, said, “It’s a little concerning if water is dropping every time it rains. I mean, it wouldn’t be that much of an issue to fix - which I thought they were doing last semester or even the semester before that.”
James Bushard, a freshman studio art major, said he doesn’t feel unsafe because the holes in the ceiling have been protected by a plastic sheet, but he hopes the leaks will be fixed soon.
Andrew Reinhardt, a sophomore graphic design major, said, “You don’t know what’s going to happen next, but it’s just leaks at the moment.”
A number of students expressed concern about the leaks in the McCarthy Center.
Dan Prefontaine, a senior environmental studies major who works for the Student Transportation Center (STC), said leaks have occurred in the McCarthy Center lobby and above the STC desk after heavy rains. “We usually have to put a bucket here [on top of the STC desk] when it leaks.”
Owen Brundage, a senior business and information technology major who works at the STC desk, said, “I don’t like having to work with a giant bucket right next to me.”
He added he was concerned about mold growth as a result of the leaks.
“I worry about my safety,” Brundage said. “This is where I am every day.”
Nicole Berry, a senior political science major, said she has been personally inconvenienced by the leaks while working at the STC desk. “I’ve had some water drip on my laptop and notebooks,” she said.
She added the light fixture above the STC desk also leaks. “It is very concerning when you see water dripping near electricity.”
Whitney said the Facilities operations director did not receive any work orders about leaks in the McCarthy Center, but her department would send someone to look at it.
“It is really important for people to tell us when they see a problem. Otherwise, we don’t know to go look at it,” she said.
Whitney said the most recent repairs to the McCarthy Center roof were made last year. “We have twice done major repairs there and the water just keeps moving and finds another hole,” she said.
If anyone sees a leak within a building or has a concern about the growth of mold within a building, they are able to report it to Facilities through a work order or a maintenance request and the Facilities Department will run a test, Whitney said.
Students can fill out maintenance requests by logging into my.framingham.edu, clicking on the “Student Life” tab, and completing the Maintenance Request Form within the Residence Life section.