Western Illinois University plans to close a dormitory because of mounting deferred maintenance costs. The East Village was built in the mid 1960s to house families and graduate students.
The 36-unit complex is in need of about $1.7-million worth of repairs to fix leaking pipes and windows as well as upgrade bathrooms.
Director of Residential Facilities Joe Roselieb said most of the problems were identified during a 2008 facility assessment of the campus. But, money has not been available for deferred maintenance projects. Last fall, Western spent about $80,000 for maintenance to the facility.
“You know you’re supposed to have an oil change done every so many miles, but sometimes we push that off an extra few miles, an extra 100 miles, an extra couple hundred miles. Sooner or later as that happens, you lead to bigger issues,” Roselieb said.
He said room and board rates would need to be increased by nearly 25% to recoup the repair costs. He said that would price the two bedroom apartments out of the market.
Plus, he said the money could be better spent on Western’s residence halls. “That’s kind of the direction we are heading, focusing on our bigger buildings that have dire need,” Roselieb said. “Buildings that house thousands of students and just making the best use of the money.”
The East Village will close in July. The university is helping current residents locate housing either on or off campus for next year. The complex is about half occupied. Western does have a couple other options for family and graduate housing including University Village and Westbrook Apartments, but he said closing the East Village is a loss.
“I think it’s a big loss. Anytime you have to take a building off, it casts doubt with your students about how the university is progressing and you just have to take a step back and look at those bigger future plans and say this is right,” Roselieb said.
“I know we’ve taken a lot of stuff off line in the last few years, but we are really cutting that deferred maintenance dollar and we’re actually being able to spend money in good areas and that’s why you are able to see good things in other facilities.
Funding to maintain the residence halls primarily comes from students paying for room and board. Roselieb said over the past few years the residence halls have been subsidizing graduate housing, which has been running a deficit of about $323,000.
Roselieb said the plan is to demolish the East Village apartments which will cost about $400,000. He hopes Western will one day be able to build a new apartment complex at the site.