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General Obligation Bond C was approved - what's next at NMSU?

With the passage of General Obligation Bond C by New Mexico voters in November, a chain of events to improve many colleges and universities in the state was set in motion. But, what happens next on the New Mexico State University campuses?

NMSU Architect Greg Walke has eight years of experience managing GO bond projects for NMSU and says that the university is already moving forward with the planning.

"We want to get to work quickly on these projects. Here on the Las Cruces campus, the big project is the renovation and additions to Hardman and Jacobs halls," Walke said.

NMSU received architectural proposals for the projects in the middle of December and an evaluation committee reviewed them. Interviews took place last week, and the committee will make decisions and have architects under contract by the first of February.

As the process moves forward, the first step is programming and planning what the true scope of each project is. A building committee, including faculty, staff, students and employees from Facilities and Services, will be involved in this process.

"Normally, design is a pretty long process," Walke said. "For a large project like Hardman and Jacobs halls, it would normally take a year, but we are going to try to do it in eight months and have the project ready to bid for construction in the fall of 2013. Then we go through the process of selecting the contractor, negotiating the contract and will likely start construction in Jan. 2014, with scheduled completion in summer of 2015."

The other NMSU campuses will go through similar processes for their GO Bond projects.

The Grants campus will receive $1 million dollars, which will mostly be spent finishing a renovation on the library in Martinez Hall, which is a phased project that will be completed with this money. The project includes interior remodeling, equipment and completely renovating the library. Should there be any money leftover at Grants, it will be applied to a long list of infrastructure projects.

Dona Ana Community College received $2 million for infrastructure upgrades. The money will mainly be used for roof repair in the main building, for some upgrades of the mechanical systems, like the air conditioning system. These upgrades are primarily for energy efficiency measures, which should result in much lower utility bills. Fire alarm systems will possibly be upgraded in DACC buildings, too.

The Alamogordo campus has $1 million for infrastructure upgrades and replacement, which will be used for roofing and air conditioning energy management controls and upgrades, similar to the upgrades at DACC. The funds also will replace some lighting, which will result in lower energy costs.

The Carlsbad campus has $1million and the primary focus there also will be mechanical system upgrades, along with some classroom and laboratory improvements.

"Many of these projects are infrastructure projects and not as glamorous as new buildings, but are very important. We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the state's property and if we don't keep it maintained, repaired and efficient, we're not fulfilling that duty. It's not glamorous or exciting, but it's very, very necessary," Walke said.

At this point in the process, NMSU is waiting for the bonds to be sold and the funds to arrive from the State of New Mexico before the work can truly begin.

"This money was appropriated by the legislature in February 2012. The state will sell the bonds in early February 2013, maybe as early as January, depending on the bond market," Walke said. "That money will then be available to us about 60 days after that. Usually, the university can front us a little of that money for design work so we can get started with the design part of the process. By the time we actually have money in our account, it'll be the spring of 2013."

The design process will use about 10-20 percent of the total project cost. Design includes site surveys and all of the things that get you up to the point of advertising for bids. Once design is complete, NMSU will advertise for bids or proposals and the actual construction can start.

NMSU follows the state procurement regulations, which gives preference to in-state contractors and architects, which provides an economic boost for the state. The state also offers an additional preference for in-state veteran-owned businesses.

Though it may not appear that any progress is being made on the General Obligation Bond C projects, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes time and work involved in these projects.

"You always notice it when people break ground and at the ribbon cutting at the end of the project. Those are very visible points in time, and the work that's going on in between is usually visible, but all of the planning, design, bidding and procurement - everything that takes place up to the time of construction, is also part of the work," Walke said. "I think people are sometimes surprised to find how long it takes from the time you get an idea about a project, the very conception of the project, to the day you break ground. There is a lot of effort put into that part of the process."

"The students, faulty and staff of New Mexico State University, at the university's many locations throughout the state, are grateful for the support of New Mexico voters in passing General Obligation Bond C during the general election in November," said NMSU Interim President Manuel T. Pacheco. "The generous support we received will help NMSU improve its campuses, grow and continue serve the needs of the citizens of the New Mexico. We look forward to growing and learning with you. Thank you, New Mexico, for your support!"