The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Combs Renovations Push Programs Out

2 min read

By Chelsie Meredith

Beginning after graduation this May, Combs Hall will close for heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) renovations, pushing summer sessions into other buildings across campus.
Inadequate control of humidity levels has resulted in the potential for mold in the walls.
Teresa Kennedy, chair of the ELS department, said that the renovations are necessary, although no physical damage has occurred involving the building or its occupants.
“It’s dangerous to have mold in the building at the levels created by the HVAC for any length of time,” she said.
According to an April 14 notice of intent to award, current negotiations between the University and contractor Atlantic Constructors put the cost of renovation at $403,135.
The contract is set to be finalized by April 24.
John Wiltenmuth, associate vice president of facilities services, said that the current HVAC system, installed during renovations in 2002, does not supply sufficient humidity control.
Because of the renovations, summer school participants taking courses in historic preservation, English, linguistics and speech will be relocated to other academic buildings such as Chandler or Dupont.
The move was coordinated by department chairs and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rosemary Barra.
Kennedy said that the relocation of classes is only for the duration of the summer.
“It’s inconvenient, but for a very short term,” Kennedy said. “It will not disrupt the regular academic year.”
Last summer, dehumidifiers were placed throughout Combs in an attempt to remove moisture from the air. However, Tim Massey, director of maintenance services, said that they were only a temporary solution.
“Humidifiers are only effective in small areas and are not effective in lowering the temperature of the building overall,” Massey said in a previous Bullet article.
Junior Serena Epstein, who attended summer classes in Combs last year, said that the air conditioning seemed to function well and that the dehumidifiers were not disruptive.
“They were mostly in the hallways, and the classroom doors were closed during classes,” she said.
Epstein said that she was under the impression that the purpose of the HVAC renovations was to protect the books and documents stored in Combs.
“The dehumidifiers were in place primarily to protect documents and books in Combs rather than for the comfort of the students and faculty,” she said.
The installation of the new HVAC system will take place over three months and will be completed by the fall.