The University of Massachusetts Boston’s Interim Chancellor Barry Mills said on Jan. 31 that the Science Building’s garage budget fix will cost $92 million. According to the Boston Globe, the original budget plan for the garage during J. Keith Motley’s time as chancellor was between $150 and $260 million.
Mills’ budget for the garage is expected to put less pressure on UMass Boston’s current $30 million deficit. The lowered budget will also allow the university to use money obtained from the Bayside Expo Center sale for new academic projects. It is currently uncertain who will be paying for this project. Mills told the Boston Globe in a recent interview that if the state refuses to pay for the project, the university would be in a position where it can now finance the project with its lowered cost.
“I think it’s one of the best pieces of news that this campus has gotten this past year. And it really shows Chancellor Mills and his team’s commitment to fixing the issue and making this campus better and giving it a brighter future,” Student Trustee Gray Milkowski said in an interview with The Mass Media.
According to the Boston Globe, Mills organized a team to set a budget fix on the subterranean garage in December and now has come up with this solution. “It just takes a huge weight off this campus,” Mills told the Boston Globe on Jan. 31.
In order to reconstruct the garage, the plan recommends to tear down the Science Building first to demolish the garage and then to replace it with a parking lot. Because the garage has been deemed unsafe and has been closed now for over 10 years, students, faculty, and staff would only commute from other parking lots on campus. Another parking lot could call for convenience and less crowded existing ones.
According to the Globe, UMass Boston’s administration received guidance for this project by real estate experts from the firm Leggat McCall.
With the new $6 parking raises in 1,200 spaces, UMass Boston consultants have said that these raises will help to pay for the new garage project, according to the Globe. Mills had clarified that the project is doable regardless.
“I’m not saying this is easy, but it is quite manageable,” Mills told the Globe.
The garage was constructed in the 1970s with a poor substructure problem and is now crumbling from its concrete ceiling and falling onto cars. The construction project at the time resulted in the imprisonment of two state senators via a corruption scandal. All who visit the site are recommended to wear a hard hat.
School officials have stated, in an audit released this past November, that UMass Boston’s current $30 million deficit was the effect of decades of money mismanagement. The original plan was being discussed when Motley was still chancellor. At the time, the budget plan stirred a lot of controversy between the central University of Massachusetts (UMass) system office and UMass Boston.
“It’s been a huge burden because of its price tag,” Milkowski said. “I think it makes a huge difference.”