CMU, Mount Pleasant officials gear up for busy, expensive construction season


Taking advantage of warm weather and clear skies, Central Michigan University and Mount Pleasant officials have started work on a multitude of summer construction projects on campus and around town.

For CMU, those projects include a new steam power system, building the Biosciences building, the Dow Science Complex active learning room renovations and the installation of a new fire suppression system in the South Quad residence halls.

Steve Lawrence, associate vice president for Facilities Management, said the steam project – known as the East Utility Loop project – will add a second steam line near Emmons and Woldt halls. Both residence halls will remain open until the end of the Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games, and will close for construction shortly thereafter.

“There’s a hole dug in four spots for the steam line,” Lawrence said. “It will connect the existing steam line to improve steam capacity for future buildings.”

In the South Quad halls, which make up Beddow, Sweeney, Thorpe and Merrill halls, new fire alarms and sprinkler suppression systems will be installed.  Merrill Hall's dining facility will also receive new suppression systems.

“The fire alarms were old. We wanted to put in a new system,” Lawrence said. “It was identified a project that needed to be done.”

The project stems from Facilities Management's plans to fix the wiring and electrical panels in South Quad. Barrie Wilkes, vice president for Finance and Administrative Services, told Central Michigan Life that his department and Facilities Management thought it would be convenient to do the projects at the same time.

Mount Pleasant's construction projects included building a new road between the Special Olympics Michigan building and the Chippewa Lanes bowling alley, the construction of the city's first Popeyes restaurant by the Mount Pleasant Police Department, and finally, a project to remove the front of the former Isabella Bank building downtown.

Bill Mrdeza, Mount Pleasant's director of Community Service and Economic Development, said another meaningful downtown project was the remodeling and expansion of Shaheen Buick GMC Truck Cadillac, Inc. near the intersection of Mission Street and Broadway Street.

Mrdeza said the dealership received permission last year to begin an exterior cosmetic remodeling project. The city is assisting them with the demolition and zoning where the now defunct Sweet Onion restaurant was located.

“They’ll be putting on a new, updated look to their dealership.” he said. “They’re also working with the city to add some decorative features at the corner including a small decorative wall, and we’re assisting them with some driveway closures as well.”

For the Isabella Bank building project, located at 200 E. Broadway Street, Mrdeza said the goal is to take the entire front facade off the building to return the building to the condition it was in before it was renovated in the 1960s – behind the existing facade are a set of brick walls that put in place when the building was constructed in 1895.

By returning the building to its original condition, the city will be eligible for a few historic preservation tax credits, Mrdeza said, which would ultimately make financial considerations easier for future developers.

In addition to the construction of the buildings, city officials have approved a number of road projects throughout the summer.

Tony Casali, manager of the Isabella County Road Commission, said the two roads that will receive the most attention are Rosebush and Deerfield roads. Both Wheaton Road bridges receive facelifts, as well.

“(Rosebush Road) will receive a pulverize and repave between Wise and Chippewa roads," Casali said. "Deerfield Road is a full reconstruct from Crawford to Mission. It will be a busy summer for us.”

Due to a pummeling of heavy and consistent snow during the winter, as well as a few bad weeks of rain, the budgets for Road Commission projects will be stretched thinner than usual this year.

“It’s a very expensive year coming off a very bad winter, and a heavy spring rain from the rain in the early spring," Casali said. "It’s been a tough year for us going into a heavy construction year, and we are concerned with our budget and how it’s going to hold up.”


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