By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — The physical plant department of St. Ambrose University kept busy throughout the summer with many smaller projects that people may not even notice.
Jim Hannon, the university’s physical plant director, said most people won’t notice the various improvement projects on campus that ranged from installing energy efficient lighting and painting of rooms to cleaning the statue of St. Ambrose and relocating utilities.
The department’s two biggest projects to complete before school starts later this month are finishing touches to the St. Ambrose University Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis and new lighting in the physical education center.
Hannon said the off-campus health sciences center work is underway. This includes installing some equipment, moving in furniture and hanging artwork from the university. Back on campus, rooms previously used as offices in Hayes Hall are being renovated. The second floor is being converted back to student housing.
The kinesiology department is moving from the wellness center off campus on 35th Street to the first floor of Hayes Hall. Several coaches’ offices will move to the 35th Street location.
In the physical education center, more energy efficient lighting is being installed. Hannon said he had MidAmerican Energy conduct an energy audit at the university. Upgrading the lighting will result in savings on the university’s electric bills.
The estimated cost for the new lighting in the basketball court area of Lee Lohman Arena is $20,000. Energy saving incentives would cover $12,000 of that cost. Estimated savings with new lighting is $7,400 just for the court area each year.
“We did a few, smaller energy efficient lighting projects on campus as well,” he noted.
Currently utilities are being relocated near Harrison Street, a project that has been in the plans for five or six years, Hannon said. Utilities are being buried underground. “It gives a better aesthetic look.”
Painting was done in different areas throughout campus at a cost of about $20,000.
The statue of St. Ambrose, located in front of Ambrose Hall, received a facelift. Hannon said it was sandblasted to remove paint, dirt and grit that have built up over the past 12 to 15 years.
Other projects included sealing and repairing bricks on walkways, installing some benches and power washing of the white roofs.
The university continues to “go green” by using bio-diesel fuel. However, a recycling project has been held off for a year and will be tied in with another on-campus project next summer.
And Hannon continues to monitor three test plots of grass planted last year: salt tolerant, slow grow and no mow grass. The slow grow “looks good” so far. The plots will be maintained for at least three years to see how different weather conditions affect the three grasses.