NORMAL — The Illinois State University Board of Trustees on Friday approved a $3.5 million project at Milner Library to address long-standing problems with water leakage, among other issues.

Money for the project will come from certificates of participation issued in 2014 to finance capital improvements to academic facilities. No additional borrowing will be needed.

President Larry Dietz said the project is “addressing a major problem all of us have been wrestling with for many years.”

The biggest change people will notice is the removal of the tent-like canopy over Milner Plaza. That $1 million, Teflon-coated fiberglass canopy was installed in 2000 to funnel away water that was leaking into the first floor below.

The canopy “helped mitigate the problem but didn't solve it,” said David Gill, ISU's director of facilities planning.

A starting date for the project has not been set, but it is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, Gill said. 

Water leakage isn't the only problem with the 40-year-old building. In 2015, temporary repairs were needed after bricks from the upper facade pulled away, creating a safety hazard. Emergency repairs also have been needed to restroom plumbing systems.

The new project will include replacing the exterior plaza roof deck, renovating central restrooms, repairing the brick facade and remodeling interior spaces damaged by water infiltration.

The restroom renovations will include changes to meet Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements.

State funding

Discussion of the state budget has been a constant part of the board's regular meetings for more than a year and Friday's session was no exception. However, the discussion was less extensive and more upbeat.

Dietz said stopgap funding combined with careful spending, targeted cuts and strong enrollment has enabled ISU to enter the new fiscal year “strong and stable.”

However, he said the “piecemeal approach” to state funding continues to have a detrimental effect on ISU and other institutions. Dietz thinks more state officials recognize that impact now, even though he doesn't expect serious discussion about the state budget until after the November elections.

“I don't currently foresee circumstances that would result in layoffs or furloughs,” Dietz told the board.

The university will honor the Monetary Award Program grants to students this fall, as it did last year, in anticipation of eventual reimbursement by the state.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved a fire protection services agreement with the town of Normal. The university will pay the town $558,955 for fiscal year 2017, an increase of about 1.7 percent over last year.
  • Extended its contract with the ISU Foundation for development and fund-raising services. Services will be provided for cash and in-kind consideration not to exceed $2.5 million.
  • Re-elected Rocky Donahue as chairman and Anne Davis as secretary, and swore in new student trustee Ryan Powers.

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter: @pg_sobota

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