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UW To Request Bonding Authority for Fine Arts, Residence Hall Construction Projects

July 16, 2009

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees today (Thursday) gave its approval to request legislative authorization for the university to issue bonds for the construction of UW's top capital facilities priority -- a new building to house the university's growing visual arts program.

New art studios are planned to replace overcrowded and out-of-date facilities for visual arts, such as sculpture, art and ceramics. That would be accomplished through issuing revenue bonds not to exceed $33 million, to be paid for by UW's share of federal mineral royalties (FMRs), which are restricted by law to use for capital facilities purposes.

The Wyoming State Legislature in 2008 authorized $600,000 for Level II preliminary design. In 2009, the Legislature appropriated $2.7 million for final design and construction documents, scheduled to be in final form by January 2010. The university plans to provide the governor and legislature a guaranteed maximum price before the 2010 legislative session begins. If the bonding authority is approved, UW plans to begin construction next summer.

Completing the Art Building (to be located near the Centennial Complex that houses the UW Art Museum) and relocating the visual arts program is required before phase two of the project, renovating and expanding the existing Fine Arts building, can begin. Plans call for the improved facility to house performing arts programs. A planning and design timeframe indicates phase two would cost about $50 million, with construction envisioned to begin in at least 2013.

Additionally, the trustees approved a request for legislative authorization to issue a maximum of $6 million in revenue bonds to renovate Downey residence hall, to be paid for with student housing revenues. It will not require an increase in housing rates. Instead, existing student housing payments for land-line phones in the residence halls will be redirected to pay for these bonds. The dramatic rise in the use of cell phones made the funding available.

The Downey Hall renovation follows previous projects to renovate Orr Hall, Downey's twin, and McIntyre Hall. The projects require one residence hall at a time to be taken out of service and it is now Downey's turn for life safety system upgrades and quality enhancements.

Trustees also heard updates on UW's plans to assist in establishing joint higher-education facilities with Casper College and Laramie County Community College. UW President Tom Buchanan said these efforts will expand opportunities for residents to obtain both undergraduate and graduate degrees at the community college sites.

"In addition to serving the state's traditional college-age students, the university is actively working to serve through our outreach programs the growing number of non-traditional students scattered throughout Wyoming," Buchanan said.


Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009

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