Worn Infrastructure Results in Excavation Adjacent to the Quadrangle

By, Kyla Guilfoil, Asst. News Editor

Excavation work to mend a broken steam pipe is ongoing on the northwest corner of the Quadrangle. The work began during the summer due to steam leaks detected in the Chapel of De La Salle and His Brothers.

Matthew McManness, VP of Finance, told The Quadrangle that this pipe issue is part of an overall deterioration of Manhattan College’s old infrastructure.

“The main quad buildings date back to 1922 when the college moved to the Bronx,” McManness wrote via email. “Many parts of their infrastructure are buried underground and do not present an issue until the need is present. During the course of our investigation, we uncovered a multitude of issues beyond the original steam concern. There were numerous sections of steam, water and fire service lines that were deteriorated.”

McManness explained that the steam was first noticed last winter, but that the process of identifying the source of such leaks is tedious. It took much digging in the areas around the Chapel to determine which pipe was the source of these leaks. The trench between Smith Auditorium, which the Chapel is in, and De La Salle Hall is where all the essential infrastructure is that connects the two buildings.

“What prompted us to open everything was the condition of the line that feeds the sprinkler system in the auditorium,” wrote McManness. “This line had failed its annual pressure test the year before. Many attempts were made to identify the exact location of its leak, and it remained a mystery until we began excavating the steam line. We found a constant flow of water that couldn’t be attributed to anything other than a pipe leak.”

McManness told The Quadrangle that he had initially hoped the project would have been completed by the end of Summer 2021, but that due to the process of obtaining materials and a proper contract, the excavation will continue for another three to four weeks. A paper sign on the site reads, “Expected November 2021.”

In collaboration with the project manager, Jason Gaynor, McManness explained that the process for obtaining the proper materials for repair is imperative to the project’s success. The pair relied on the “collective experience of the physical plant staff”. Through this collaboration, the project team is able to create a design for work and a list of materials that will best assist in the particular project.

According to McManness, if a project is estimated to cost more than $5,000 and is not under a maintenance agreement, the college offers the project out to three different contractors to bid on. The most qualified and competitive contractor will receive the contract for the project.

The work began during the summer due to steam leaks detected in the Chapel of De La Salle and His Brothers. NICOLE FITZSIMMONS / THE QUADRANGLE

In this case the chosen contracting team gave a crew of 5-10 workers. The size of the crew varies day to day depending on the objective of that day’s work.

McManness explained that this project was unrelated to the repairs needed after damages from Hurricane Ida and Tropical Storm Henri.

“The historic floods we had this summer on campus and throughout NYC had no real effect on these projects except slowing down the bidding of the work since it is hard to get some of the items needed to replace the pipe,” McManness told The Quadrangle via email. “Practically every part of the flood related clean up work has been funded through our insurance. The work was primarily in Miguel, DeLaSalle and Memorial Hall with some work in Draddy Gymnasium. Most of the work has been carpet, time and drywall repairs as well as some repairs for damage to the gym floor. Most of that work has been completed.”

Alternatively, this pipe repair project has not yet been covered by insurance, nor has been completed. The pipeline project has not been yet submitted to insurance for review, as McManness explained that the full scope of the work needs to be understood first. Since the college hopes to complete the work before the beginning of winter, the project is currently being self-funded by the institution. According to McManness, the current budget for this project is approximately $300,000.

For the fiscal year ending in June 2020, according to the college’s form 990, MC had a total of $39,967,302 in expenses for independent contractors regarding construction. The next highest expense for independent contractors hired by the college was $8,952,737 for food services. This current $300,000 project indicates that construction efforts continue to be a high cost for the college.

McManness confirmed that the oldest infrastructure exists on the main campus where most of the repairs are necessary. However, the south campus has experienced much renovation in the last few years.

Just this year, The Patricia and Cornelius J. Higgins ‘62 Engineering and Science Center was opened adjacent to Leo Hall on south campus. This brand new building was introduced to MC through a $5 million donation from Patricia and Cornelius J. Higgins.

According to manhattan. edu, the college also received a grant from the State of New York. In spring 2021, MC was awarded a Higher Education Capital (HECap) Matching Grant of $5 million. This money will go to Leo Hall renovations.

According to the college’s website, the grant requires the college to invest at least $3 for every $1 that the grant gives. Therefore, there is a large investment going towards south campus renovations in the coming years.

Manhattan.edu also advertises a fundraising operation aimed to not only develop the south campus, but also the main campus. This effort has been coined, “Invest in the Vision,” and the website claims a total of $151 million has already been raised since its inception in 2013. The goal total is $165 million, according to manhattan.edu.

“This $165 million funding effort has identified three top priorities: enhancing facilities; growing endowment for scholarships and faculty development; and securing unrestricted support,” states manhattan. edu.

According to the website, there have already been renovations made to the O’Malley School of Business using funds from Invest in the Vision, including the Experiential Learning Center in De La Salle Hall. Further renovations are planned for De La Salle, Miguel and Hayden halls, as well as Smith Auditorium. The webpage for Invest in the Vision also included the construction of Higgins as part of its “Enhanced Facilities” work.

Projects like Invest the Vision and the current excavation work on the Quadrangle indicate the college’s need to renovate its infrastructure and further develop the physical campus.