Homecoming weekend is bringing a call for safety on the University of Northern Iowa campus. U.N.I. students and administrators are teaming up with Cedar Falls city leaders to encourage safe choices for those celebrating this weekend. In 2005, a Homecoming arson fire heavily damaged the school’s main administration building — Gilchrist Hall.
The facility has been closed since then, but U.N.I. Facilities Planner Steve Pavelec says the renovation work is finally underway. He says they’ve been working on the building for several weeks, putting the walls back up as the building was gutted after the fire, so it’s almost all new construction on the inside. Pavelec says it’ll be another six months before Gilchrist Hall reopens.
He says the work is slated to be done in May of 2008. Arson fires were set in three campus buildings in 2005. Baker and Lang Halls were slightly damaged, but the cost to repair Gilchrist Hall ended up totaling more than ten-million dollars. Work to repair Gilchrist finally began in late August with the gutting of the building’s interior.
Now, Pavelec says, contractors are in the second and most-expensive phase of renovation project. That total cost includes the cleaning, removing everything from the building, relocating offices and the demolition of everything inside, plus the reconstruction. A parade, two sports facility dedications, athletic Hall-of-Fame inductions, and a volleyball match are among the Homecoming activities at U.N.I . on Saturday, in addition to a sold-out football game against Southern Illinois. Homecoming organizers have set up a free shuttle service campus and have taken other steps in an effort to make this year’s celebration safe.