Renovations to Satellite remain in limbo
By Andrew Fritsch
Daily Cougar Staff
Though UH officials had hoped for a newly renovated University Center
Satellite by the beginning of the summer, the completion date for the already
10-month-old project is still undetermined, as is the cost.
Stephen Edinger/The Daily Cougar
The University Center Satellite, once teeming with student
life and easily attainable tacos, waits to be restored to its former glory.
The University has no start date for renovations.
"No one wants to say anything prematurely," Satellite construction
manager, Supryo Chowdery, said.
The lack of certainty and information about project completion results
from University officials, Chartwells and the Federal Emergency Management
Agency working to complete the same project, said John Howelkin, director
of Architectural Services.
"There's no problem with getting the food services going," Chartwells
campus director Nick Iula aid. "The University and Chartwells are on the
Standard fare, like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, will return to the food
court with some new additions that include Starbucks and Chick-fil-A.
The architectural plan has been completed, and the design should reduce
the bottlenecking experienced in the Satellite, Robert Schneller, executive
director of Safety and Risk Management, said.
With the plans for the building ready, negotiations with FEMA remain
"It has been real tedious working to reconcile it," Schneller said.
FEMA only funds renovations to re-establish pre-disaster conditions,
and determining the cost of restoring the Satellite's original state has
purpose of the meetings with FEMA. But FEMA will only provide 75 percent
of the amount necessary to reach previous Satellite setting, Chowdery said.
UH would have pay for the remaining 25 percent to restore it to pre-disaster
conditions. Since improvements and Americans with Disabilities Act code
policies will be enacted, this cost will be deferred to the University.
But the cost remains undetermined because FEMA has not yet determined the
amount it will give UH, Schneller said.
Additionally, studies to determine what structural aspects at the Satellite
caused the flooding and the measures needed to prevent further flooding
still incomplete, said Jeff Fink, who serves as the University's FEMA
Erlene Redfern, FEMA's public assistance officer, said the process for
determining pre-disaster conditions with UH is simply standard procedure.
"The University can do what it wants to whether FEMA will go along with
funding or not," said Kim Pease, FEMA's Satellite project manager.
The apparent delay also results from decisions UH officials made in
construction projects following the flood.
"It's not a high enough priority," Schneller said. "Forty-nine buildings
on campus flooded, and most of the damage occurred in the basements where
the students couldn't see it."
Infrastructure damage (electrical wiring, generators, air conditioning,
etc.) had the greatest campus-wide effects because buildings are essentially
useless without the necessary functioning facilities, Schneller said.
The projects are about 90 percent completed, and temporary repairs will
be made permanent once all the necessary parts and equipment arrive, Fink
"The University's goal has been to get students back in the classroom,"
Schneller said. "If you lose enrollment, that's bad. You've got to have
classrooms and enrollment because people will go somewhere else to
get their education if the classes they want aren't offered."
Meetings with FEMA regarding the cost of Satellite renovations should
conclude in a week or two, Schneller said.