MADISON — The Republican-controlled state Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday voted to allocate $10.57 million for two University of Wisconsin-Parkside upgrade projects as part of the 2019-21 state budget.
The upgrades, part of the $1 billion total approved for UW System building projects, are planned to replace fire-alarm systems in 21 UW-Parkside buildings, improve smoke and heat detection systems and finish a half-completed waterproofing project for the campus’ main utility tunnel, according to a statement from Scott Menke, Parkside’s vice chancellor for finance and administration.
Securing funding for the fire system upgrades would be a huge win for the school, which has for months pushed for improving the dated system. Many components of the system are original to the buildings, dating back as far as the 1970s.
“We appreciate the advocacy and support of state Senators and Assembly representatives from southeastern Wisconsin on behalf of UW-Parkside and these projects,” Menke said.
The system’s age has resulted in false fire alarms, officials told The Journal Times in April.
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The fire-alarm renovations are budgeted for $6.77 million, while the utility tunnel renovations are estimated to cost $3.8 million, according to John Mielke, UW-Parkside’s communications director.
If the budget ultimately passes, the fire alarm project would begin in September 2021 with a final completion date of December 2023.
Gov. Tony Evers has not ruled out vetoing the full budget, though, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on Tuesday indicated state Republicans may not return to the Capitol until October should the governor veto it.
As part of the 2017-19 state capital spending budget, UW-Parkside received $35.4 million for improvements to Wyllie Hall, and the UW Board of Regents on Friday gave the go-ahead for phase one of that project.