Old Main Quad Closed for Pipe Maintenance

In the beginning of the semester, the Old Main Quad is usually littered with students relaxing with books, tossing frisbees and lounging in crowds with their friends. When students returned this fall, the area was surrounded by chain-link fences and green tarps. 

“I thought that I would be able to sit out on the quad and make memories, but instead I was met with a construction site,” said third-year psychology major Ava Bustamante. “I feel bad for the freshmen who saw the quad when they toured and are now missing out on experiencing it.”  

Soon after classes ended, the area was gated off for repairs to the pipes that provide the Old Library with hot water. While the project continued throughout the summer, Vice President John Shupe says that plans are on track and that the fence should come down within the next few weeks.

Shupe explained that hot water on campus is generated from a main boiler plant located next to the University Police station. From this location, high temperature water is pumped through a series of underground pipes to most of the buildings on campus. The lifespan of these pipes range from roughly 20 to 25 years before they eventually succumb to rust and wear. This damage can then lead to leaks which invite contamination, waste energy and disrupt hot water distribution to the buildings. SUNY New Paltz Architect Megan Smailer explained that such a leak occurred, making repairs necessary. 

“We replaced almost all of the lines on campus a few years ago,” Shupe said. “This was one we did not replace because of budget issues.”

The project is an expensive undertaking: Smailer claimed that the project cost $715,000 to complete and Shupe said it cost nearly $1,000 a foot. In addition, Smailer said the money came from the New York State University Construction Fund, so the burden was not put on the school. The program funds numerous construction and maintenance projects on state university campuses across New York.

Within the next two weeks, Shupe says the school plans to take the fencing down around the area. In addition, the school will be placing grass seeding to restore the quad to its former green glory. The cool temperature and damp mornings are the perfect conditions for grass-growing, according to Shupe. The area will be partially open for students to walk through the center walkway until the grass is fully restored. In the meantime, wooden stakes and string will outline the area to try to keep students off the seeds.