Englesby, a drain on the funds?
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 16:09
The Englesby House is celebrating its 100th birthday early. At least that is the way it seems with all of the private donations flooding into the coffers of the 1913 structure’s renovation fund.
While new kitchen cabinets, a replastered third floor and brand-spanking-new privacy windows may not be on everyone’s wish list, the Board of Trustees are nonetheless grateful for the gifts.
Because it might just be these “private gifts” keeping the Board generally unscathed by the fiasco that is the Englesby House renovation project.
For those unfamiliar, the Englesby House is the traditional residence of the University president. During former President Fogel’s administration, the house sat vacant, slowly deteriorating while he collected a $1,800 a month housing stipend.
Now it is time for President Sullivan to move in, and the Board is scrambling to fix problems it has ignored for nearly a decade.
Without these generous private donations, as much as $735,000 worth of the repairs — now totaling $1.3 million — would be coming out of UVM’s pocket, creating much more virulent cries for improved money management.
But concerns still remain — the most glaring of which is the ever-flooding Englesby basement. Runoff from excessive rain flows down the hill the house sits on, pooling in the backyard and basement.
Vice President of Finance Richard Cate described Englesby’s outdated drainage system as “by far the largest problem” facing the structure in a 2011 Cynic article. So you would assume that project would be well on its way to completion, right? Wrong.
After two rounds of allocating funds, the Board has yet to give the go-ahead for $700,000 to improve the faulty drainage. Maybe they are waiting for the hill to erode first. Erosion, after all, is free.
If you are going to fix something, fix all of it. At this point the Board needs to suck it up and pull the Band-Aid off. The drainage problem isn’t going away.
Anyone who has watched enough TLC knows housing projects run over budget. Worse than running over budget now, however, would be revisiting this issue next year when President Sullivan grows tired of wading through his basement.
The Board can put the funds on their Christmas list.