An administrator at the University of Northern Iowa says they now believe the school’s fire-damaged administration building will be out of service for at least 12 months. Gillchrist Hall was damaged by a fire set on homecoming weekend in October. U-N-I vice president Tom Schellhardt says the costly and time-consuming removal of asbestos in the building has slowed the cleanup. He says since they realized they have to remove the asbestos, they now know it’s going to take about one year to renovate and move back into Gillchrist.
Schellhardt says they moved 160 permanent employees into 16 buildings after the fire, and are now trying to consolidate the employees into fewer areas. He says they found temporary quarters to be able to provide services to students, and now that they know that it’ll be a year to renovate Gillchrist, they’re trying to consolidate the services.
For example, he says they’re moving the admissions to a location where there’s parking and an opportunity for staff to work with students and parents. Schellhardt says it’s going to be costly to repair the fire-damaged building. He says there’s legislation that’s been introduced to fund the two-milion dollars, and he says it’s going to cost at least double that amount to renovate Gillchrist.
Schellhardt credits the students and staff for their patience in dealing with all the services that have been spread out on the Cedar Falls campus. He says, “They’ve been tolerant, they’ve been patient and we’ve been able to provide services to all of our constituents and it’s been very collaborative, been very collegial, and we appreciate that.” Gilchrist is one of three buildings damaged by fires set on October 16th. Police say the fires were intentionally set, but there have been no arrests.