Dorm demolition about to start

Alisa Boswell

The demolition of Lincoln Hall on Eastern New Mexico University campus will begin Monday after the last of asbestos has been removed from the building.

Demolition was due to begin on June 1, but due to finding additional asbestos in hidden areas, the removal took extra time, according to Scott Smart, ENMU vice president of business affairs.

“I think lots of folks want to see dynamite blow up but that’s not going to happen,” Smart said, laughing. “They will just take it down by layers, start at the top and work their way down.”

Smart said Lincoln Hall is one of three campus dormitories that will be torn down this year; Chaves and De Baca halls being the other two.

He said the asbestos removal and demolition of the three buildings is a $3.5 million project and will be completed by December. Construction of a new freshman dormitory is a $12 million project and will be completed by Aug. 1, 2012, he said.

Smart said the Chaves and De Baca sites will remain green space after their demolition but a new three story freshman dormitory will replace Lincoln.

“It’s kind of like a two-step process,” Smart said. “The guys who just finished removing the asbestos from Lincoln will move straight to Chaves and the same with the demolition crew. I anticipate the demolition for all three will be done by December.”

Smart said the asbestos removal of Lincoln Hall took two months and the demolition is expected to be done in the same time frame with a finish date of Sept. 1.

The project is being paid for by a $28 million state bond geared toward energy-saving projects. Smart said $27 million of the bond is being used for construction projects.

“It’s just time to get rid of them before they become an eyesore on campus,” Smart said. “With the housing capacity on campus, we have no need for them. Once we build the new facility along with our other housing facilities, there will be enough beds to house students.”

Smart said Chaves Hall has been closed for several years and De Baca for almost 20 years. Lincoln closed four years ago when San Juan Village opened. All three buildings were built from 1955 to 1965.

He said with the project totaling about $15 million, another $6 million of the bond will be used to replace the hot water system on campus and $2.5 million will replace the ceiling in Greyhound Arena.

“I just think it’s good for the future of the university,” Smart said of the changes. “You have to invest money back into the facilities of the university in order to support the academic mission.”

He said a name for the new dormitory has not been chosen, but the building will replace Lincoln Hall at about the same size of 98,289 square feet.

ENMU President Steven Gamble said university faculty members are excited about the new hall coming to campus.

“It will be a great boon for our growing enrollment and students who want to enjoy the advantages of living on campus,” he said. “It will be a first-class facility.”