Residents are expected to return to their apartments soon while a contracting company concludes drying efforts.
Maria Montero Silva, Editor-in-Chief
Co-written by Kaitlyn Tambasco, Managing Editor
Last Thursday, Oct. 10, at 1:30 a.m., the peace in Pioneer Village was interrupted when a pipe burst caused building B to flood. The first floor suffered the most serious damage, forcing students to spend the night at Utica’s Holiday Inn and later on relocated to Burrstone House while contractors worked on drying the walls and floors.
Now, two weeks after the incident, the 16 students who have been living in Burrstone could be given the green light to move back to Pioneer Village in the following days, according to an update by the Student Living and College Engagement office.
While the cause of the pipe failure is still unknown, a professional is assessing the circumstances to identify what led to the incident.
Initially, the estimated time to complete the drying of the building and inspection of mold formations was 30 days. However, the company in charge of those efforts confirmed to the SLCE office that there is no risk for students to live there.
Assistant Director for Student Living Marissa Finch said the main concern was the safety of students and “ensuring the space was dry enough to begin repairs and complete it properly.”
Among those repairs, which are being covered by the Utica Municipal Housing Authority, so far the pipe has been fixed, the insulation and drywall have been replaced and work has been done in the suites and the hallway.
Finch added that the final step is to paint and have the space reinspected for safety and compliance to guarantee that the building is apt to house students again, which could happen as soon as Friday.
After the first night at Holiday Inn, students were relocated to Burrstone because “we felt it was the best option for them,” Finch said.
“This allowed (the students) to still have a more relaxed off-campus feel while still being on campus,” she said.
Resident assistants and campus safety officers have been in Burrstone with those students and communication between them and the SLCE office has been constant.
The Utica Municipal Housing Authority, which owns 70 percent of the building complex, has provided students with help throughout the moving out process, such as boxes and transportation. The full size beds that in Pioneer Village have also been moved to Burrstone under request from the students.
Area coordinator Mathew Vincent was one of the first staff members who responded to the flood in Pioneer Village.
“Our main responsibility at that moment was to get everyone out of the building,” he said. “We provided students with an update and we eventually came to the conclusion that we were going to put everyone up for the Holiday Inn for the night.”
After that, Vincent and the staff from the SLCE office worked to make sure that the students were provided with rides to the hotel and organized the moving out process.
When students were communicated that they were not allowed to return to their apartments that night “there was some obvious frustration,” Vincent stated.
“However, for the most part, the students and especially the 16 residents who have been displaced from the first floor, have been really great sports and cooperative about it,” he added.
Senior and psychology major Leland Frink was one of the students that was affected by the pipe burst and later on relocated to Burrstone.
He said he was in his room and when he came out and noticed the water coming into his suite and water was dripping from the ceiling.
Students were assisted with moving and were given extra bins to put clothes in.
“I’m not gonna lie, it bummed me out that this happened and I think these buildings were really rushed and they were hyped up too much,” Frink said. “The only reason why I decided to live there is because they were new and it’s my last year so I wanted to see how they were. They are nice buildings but they are not what people make them out to be.”
Frink added that he does not think the issue is going to ruin the perception of the buildings for everyone.
Senior and health studies major Rachel Flores was also in her room when this occurred. She said she was about to go to sleep when she heard a knock on the door. Flores assumed it was an RA but it was campus safety asking if their room was affected by the pipe burst. She noticed after, that she was stepping in a puddle.
Following the residents’ evacuation, students hung out in the community center. Flores said that it wasn’t until three or four in the morning when they were settled into the hotel.
Later that day, the first floor was placed in Burrstone. She said there was a total of 16 people that needed housing but only 14 singles were available. That was when Flores and her friend volunteered to share.
“I think they should have built these buildings more sturdy; they made them with what seems to be the cheapest materials ever,” she stated.
Flores added that her and other students want their money back for the two weeks they have been in Burrstone.
“However, I do think that Marissa Finch and Matt Vincent are doing the best they can at accommodating all of us and helping us out with anything they can,” Flores said. “They can’t control the situation but those two have made things way easier on us and some people are being aggressive towards them which I don’t like.”
Flores said she misses living in Pioneer Village and described Burrstone “as the worst possible placement.”
She also said that if she had to choose between living in Tower or Pioneer Village, she would still choose Pioneer Village.
“I think when it comes to all these issues, the good still outweighs the bad, and I just hope that this never happens again because it is a huge inconvenience,” Flores said. “This is my last semester, it sucks I have to go through this. But at the end of the day, Pioneer Village is still great,” Flores said.