Campus construction halted by Bevin’s budget cuts

Emma Collins

Two university construction projects have been put on hold due to Gov. Matt Bevin’s upcoming budget cuts.

The construction of another parking structure, Parking Structure 3, and a new building for the Gordon Ford College of Business have been put on hold indefinitely.

According to Jennifer Tougas, director of parking and transportation, PS3, which will hold about 600 parking spaces, will be located in the back half of Creason lot.

Tougas believes Creason lot is the ideal location for an addition to WKU’s parking.

“It’s got excellent transit service. It’s easy for people to locate, easy for people to get in and out of, and we’ve got nine buses that go through that parking lot,” Tougas said.

The need for a new parking structure, a complaint which is often voiced by students, is not lost on Tougas.

“It really is a question of when we’re able to move forward with that project as opposed to if we’re able to move forward with that project,” Tougas said. “At this point we have full support of the administration; we have the support of the council of postsecondary education to move forward with the funding.”

If the final version of Bevin’s budget does not include funding for the parking structure, Tougas will continue to seek out ways to ensure that the structure will one day be built.

“If it isn’t included in this budget, then we’ll ask in the next opportunity,” Tougas said.

Like Tougas, President Gary Ransdell refuses to believe that Bevin’s budget cuts will put an end to the construction on campus.

“Sooner or later, it’s going to get done,” Ransdell said referring to plans to build a new facility to house Gordon Ford. Ransdell views the construction of the new building as the main priority.

According to Jeffrey Katz, dean of the college of business, a new building will allow students in the college to use a more modern facility to further their learning.

“Our culture of ‘student-focused applied business education excellence’ will actively continue while we await the funding and construction of our new business building,” Katz said in an email.

The construction for the new building was projected to cost $49 million. The delay in construction, however, could lead to an increase in the cost of the building.

“One of the things that worries me is that the longer that project gets delayed, and as the cost of construction goes up, $50 million for a building won’t buy two or three years from now what it would have bought two or three years ago, or even today,” Ransdell said.

According to Ransdell, construction plans including the renovation of Grise Hall, the demolition of Tate Page Hall and an expansion of South Lawn will be affected.

Bevin’s plan for budget cuts, including a nine percent cut in postsecondary appropriations from the state, has not been approved; however, a 4.5 percent cutback, which was passed by executive order, means WKU must cut $3.5 million from its budget by the end of June.