Plaza and Memorial Hall project ranks third on bonding priorities
By Faith Boyum
The Dungeon still stands, despite efforts to the contrary.
Plaza Hall, also known as the Dungeon due to its dim lighting and cramped layout, and Memorial Hall, the adjacent building, which also has extensive water damage, have been waiting for much-needed renovations for the past couple years.
Three years ago, when the Minnesota Legislature was choosing projects to fund, RCTC was ranked 11th, and it was estimated to cost about $9 million to $10 million for the whole project. Though the cost was high, many college officials agreed that rebuilding the whole thing would save money in the long run.
Now in 2017, the RCTC project is up for consideration for funding again, and the maintenance requires creativity. In some areas, the ceiling displays water stains and crumbling paneling that resembles Rorschach spots from water damage.
In response to these leaks, the staff have produced unorthodox means to keep the water seepage contained. Some of the waste baskets scattered throughout are strategically placed to catch the water that leaks into the building after each rainfall.
In addition, many of the offices sport outdated heating and cooling equipment that doesn’t regulate temperature well and encourages the growth of mold. As a result, some instructors keep their office doors open to impede the growth of mold and keep the temperature more constant.
However, despite this, RCTC still has not been able to move forward with project. However, Memorial and Plaza Hall’s renovation is now ranked third on a list of priorities made by the state to receive funding, and this increased urgency may work in RCTC’s favor, hastening the destruction of the Dungeon.
‘‘We are extremely hopeful the legislature will pass a bonding bill this year,” said Steve Schmall, Vice President for Finance and Facilities at RCTC. “With such a bill, RCTC with its priority by Minnesota State, stands a terrific chance of being included in the bill.”
As of now, RCTC has mostly completed blueprints of the new construction plans for which they received $1 million in 2014. This plan would save $5 million in maintenance and eliminate the many problems with the damaged architecture and the cramped layout of the two buildings.
If all goes as planned, Schmall said that RCTC could begin constructing the new building next fall and open it in fall 2019. After the new building opens, the college would like to demolish Plaza and Memorial Hall and build a new courtyard in their place.
Will all this happen according to plan?
Rep. Nels Pierson, a Republican from Stewartville who serves on the House Capital Investment Committee, thinks it is likely and would be happy to see the project move forward.
“We are towards the top of the list, and as the author of the bill, I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to get this project done,” he said.