By CHELSEA NEWNAM
Associate Vice President of Facilities Services John Wiltenmuth said plans for the new deck at the Eagle’s Nest are still underway, though the process has met some unexpected delays.
UMW had to delay the project for several months while waiting for approval from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. The school applied for the permits in January, but just received DCR approval for the project two weeks ago.
School officials expect construction of the new deck to begin within three to four months of receiving and accepting a bid from an architectural firm. Bids opened this week.
Construction will take approximately four months, and Facilities Services hopes to have the deck finished by spring break.
Based on the needs of the architects and engineers, the cost of the new deck will be between $400,000 and $500,000. However, Associate Vice President for Business and Services Rick Pearce says that pending budget cuts ordered by the state could affect the project.
“A final budget reduction plan has not been approved yet so it is not possible to say the deck project will not be affected,” Pearce said. “That said, I know the deck is a high priority for the president and others, so every attempt will be made to proceed with the project.”
The deck outside the Nest has been closed since August of 2007, due to the structure’s violation of the state building code. Officials had to close the deck after a state inspector determined that it was originally built under residential, not commercial requirements, without the proper supports for the amount of weight it held.
The plan for the new deck remedies this problem by sporting larger columns, joists, and beams. It also features an emergency exit staircase off the front just to the left of the existing freezer.
The DCR required plans for storm water management and erosion control improvements, so the plans for the deck had to be drafted several times. The deck is inside a Resource Protection Area, and state regulations require that the new deck be able to reduce runoff by 10 percent more than the old one.
“If you look at the location and topography of the site, the challenge should be evident,” Wiltenmuth said.
Wiltenmuth compares waiting on DCR approval to turning in the draft of a paper: the professor can tell students when the paper’s due, but they can’t decide when to get the grade back.
There are many new features of the deck that render it an upgrade in style as well as safety. Though the square footage is the same as the old model, the new deck will hold roughly 152 people and connect to the Campus Walk arcade between the Woodard Campus Center and the library as well as the back room of the Nest. It will sport a full roof overhang fully equipped with ceiling fans and outdoor lighting.
“It’s going to be a great addition. It’s beautiful,” said John Dering, general manager for Dining Services. Dering has seen the renovation plans and is excited about the changes being ade.
Though sales and student attendance at the Nest were not affected by the deck’s closing, Dining Services recognized student desire to have the option of a place to eat outside. This prompted the purchase of the furniture in the Woodard Center Plaza. According to Dering, this eating area has been such a hit that it will remain even after the deck is fully constructed.
Even after a year and the attempt at compensation with the plaza tables, students still miss the seclusion of the deck.
“It makes me sad. It was one of the cool little niches on campus,” said senior Julia Thalen. “It made a great observation area without being in the middle of the action.”