February 21, 2001

Cornell Receives Town's OK to Build New Shops

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On a campus that is 136-years-old, upkeep is an ongoing battle. Leagues of University employees fight daily to keep the campus operating at full capacity. Yesterday evening the Town of Ithaca Planning Board unanimously voted to approve the construction of a new carpenter and paint shop facility at Route 366 and Palm Road.

The new facility is essential since the “University outgrew the two shops a few years ago, we’ve been overcrowded for some time,” said Bruce Bush the superintendent of the carpenter and paint shops.

“The shops have grown a lot in the last five years, we’re looking forward to finally having a space that can accommodate both the equipment and the increased personnel,” he said.

Both increased traffic and environmental drainage aspects of the new shop were of concern to the Town of Ithaca Planning Board. The carpenter and paint shop lies in Precinct Seven, an area where most surface water drains to Cascadilla Creek. Cornell constructed three water detention sites to accommodate the drainage problem and built in extra capacity for storm detention.

Stephen Wright, director of planning, design and construction at Cornell, explained that the area is constructed of rock fill, under all but the heaviest rains drainage is vertical. He went on to say that detention water basins were there merely to slow the water, not to contain it. Traffic will only slightly increase and the impact will vary depending on if the University is in session or not.

Safety and crowding both were issues that led the University to dream of a bigger home for the carpenters and painters that maintain the campus upkeep.

“We have large numbers of trades people because as the campus grows, so do we, the ones who take care of it,” Bush said. “When you’re overcrowded its just unsafe with so much equipment everywhere. It is much safer to have adequate space.”

The building is 16,000-square-feet and will be dark blue and slate gray. There will be two shops in the same building. Most times carpenters will manufacture goods and send them over to the paint shop where they will be finished.

“Everything you can imagine a carpenter would be doing is going to be going on in this building. It is going to be a manufacturing facility,” Wright said.

“The shop can pretty much do anything with the highly skilled Cornell carpenters who have years and years of experience,” he said.

In addition, the painters go beyond just painting and do sign work, glass work, sandblasting, dry-walling and specialty finishing such as poxy coating for cement.

“Its an interesting challenge to maintain 120 to 130-year-old buildings — unique buildings that deserve unique attention. You need highly skilled people to maintain and refresh them,” Wright said.

Archived article by Julia Macdonald