Due to budgetary issues, an elevator planned for the university’s Paul Creative Arts Center (PCAC) has been temporarily scrapped from the ongoing construction project.
Two other elevators remain, though the third had to be scrapped due to a fault in the budget. The university could afford both the smaller elevator, which will be located in the museum, and the larger one on the arts side. The third elevator will be reevaluated after the university has a chance to plot out the budget for the next fiscal year.
“We believe, as well as the university, that [the PCAC] is something that should be prioritized,” College of Liberal Arts (COLA) College Academic Affairs Coordinator Kevin Sousa said. “But within the limits, there’s only a certain amount of money available each year for certain renovations. We certainly believe this next phase should be something that’s a priority for [the PCAC].”
At an open forum in the fall 2016 semester, UNH President Mark Huddleston responded to a group of PCAC students’ concerns with a simple response: the PCAC, as it stands, is “a mess.” Arts majors spelled out, among other things, the lack of handicapped accessibility and desperate need for internal improvements. Huddleston heard these complaints loud and clear.
Renovations began over winter break and will continue through second semester. The eye-sore that is the restroom trailer is intended for construction workers and students while the indoor facilities are worked on. The idea, at least to start, is to solve some accessibility issues by overhauling the restrooms.
Sousa oversees much of the planning and works closely with the Space Allocation, Adaption and Renewal Committee (SAARC) to address several aspects of renovation on campus. SAARC is a standing advisory committee to President Huddleston and oversees development, assignment, naming and stewardship of all university buildings and related infrastructure.
“We’ve set plans in place to renovate practice rooms, the Bratton auditorium — which involves improved stage lighting for larger venues — and restrooms,” Sousa said. “The main goal is to make [PCAC] a more livable location for current students. Obviously we have future generations to consider, but what we’re trying to do is make the PCAC the best environment we can for students at the moment.”
The university’s request for an increase in state funding was recently denied. It’s among SAARC’s responsibilities to allocate state funding, a job that has been in the spotlight since news came of the unchanging budget. Student Body President Jonathan Dean, who sits on the SAARC committee, said there’s an outstanding amount of pressure to allocate money for PCAC improvements.
“There are two levels of renovation at the PCAC,” Dean said. “There’s the want for an entire renovation, and the want for specific changes. For the first, you’re looking at $30 million to $40 million, which the university just doesn’t have. The state is not increasing our money for capital investments. For the specific changes, like the elevator, I’ve been told it’s not going to happen this summer and is going to be reevaluated in the fall.”