Construction zone ahead

by Mark Pleiss

Fraternity-housing renovations costing $2 million and smallerprojects around campus will begin as soon as students leave for thesummer, while other projects await the nod of Simpson’s board oftrustees.

The approved work will eliminate bedrooms in each of thefraternity houses on campus to make way for larger bathrooms, newfire systems and a waterline, as well as individual air and heatcontrols for each room.

“Right after folks go home after graduation, the constructionwill begin,” said Ken Birkenholtz, vice president for business andfinance. “This is going to provide us with more room and provide amore creature-friendly space. It is our goal [with DowningConstruction of Indianola, the contractor for the project] to havework completed by August, before students move in.”

The larger bathrooms will also accommodate the transformation ofthe Kappa Theta Psi building from a fraternity house to a residencehall for first-year students and transfers.

“In the future, possibly for the Fall 2005 school year, the oldKappa building may be an international language and culture house,”said Jim Thorius, vice president for student development.

The college will pay for the renovations through a combinationof borrowing and funds from Simpson’s operating budget.

Members of Kappa will move to a smaller theme house, and thecurrent fraternity house will be renamed as Worth House, the nameit held in the 1970s before becoming a fraternity.

In addition to fraternity renovations, architects are planning a$3 million addition to Barker residence hall. Though not yetapproved by the board of trustees, the renovation would add 20,000square feet and 75 beds to Barker.

The board will vote May 14 to on whether to proceed with theaddition, work on which would begin next August and take a year tocomplete.

“This is going to give us a lot more space,” Birkenholtz said.”It’s part of our plan to one day connect Barker, Kresge and a newstudent center together into one.”

College officials also are drafting plans to expand and surfacethe gravel parking lots near the Simpson baseball field. Thatproject also awaits board approval.

“We’re working on plans for a significant parking lot expansionproject,” Thorius said. “There’s a good likelihood of this planbeing approved and beginning this summer.”

Other smaller projects planned for the summer include newfire-sprinkler systems in Station Square Apartments and variouscarpet replacements and roof repair throughout several of thebuildings on campus.

“This summer’s construction is similar to other years,”Birkenholtz said. “Some years we go crazy and have five or sixmajor projects. It’s always our goal to finish before studentsarrive in the fall.”