The Westfield Voice

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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Gov. Baker Gives $21M to Renovate Parenzo


On July 10, 2018 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker visited Westfield State University to give $21 million for renovations to Parenzo Hall. The Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance will begin the planning process over the next year, with construction set to begin in June of 2020. 

The most difficult part of the process will be deciding how and where classes will be held. The school has yet to decide if classes will continue to be held within Parenzo during the construction process, or if a separate, temporary building will be needed to house classes. 

 “It’s going to be a challenge to get it all done,” said David Riggles, Associate Director for Projects and Space Management, citing the conflict surrounding students safety. This will be an issue not just for students and professors, but for certain departments and services that reside in Parenzo hall, such as the Education and Political Science Departments, the Reading and Writing Center, and Dever Auditorium. As the Facilities and Operations Department learns more, the specifics of how and when these renovations are to begin will stay closely monitored.  

Westfield State University is not the first to experience difficulties regarding renovations. Wellesley College, another Massachusetts school has had their fair share of renovations and cited how for all their good, the construction process is a difficult one for students and faculty.  

Riggles also provided further details on the renovation plans. Over the course of the next year, the DCAMM will periodically visit the school, reporting on building dimensions, space, and what will need to be altered for building on campus.  

On top of that, DCAMM must also reach out to architects and construction teams to get the job done. After the plans are drawn up, construction is set to begin in about two years. The construction is forecasted to take over a year to complete, but at the moment, no specifics can be given with the date so far away.  

The core of the renovation lies within updating the building itself. Parenzo hall has remained mostly unchanged since its creation, lacking sufficient fire alarms and sprinkler systems. As well, there will be a strong focus on improving window and door insulation to better keep the building heated and cooled, along with the installation of heating and cooling systems.  

Once the practical renovations are complete, the remaining money will be spent for cosmetic purposes to update the interior and exterior of the building. Students have expressed both relief and worry regarding the project, with one education student stating “it’s definitely time for Parenzo to get an upgrade. Especially the classrooms and bathrooms”. 

The money comes from a $3.9 billion bond bill that Governor Baker has shared with other Massachusetts state schools. Baker announced H.4549 An Act providing for capital repairs and improvements for the Commonwealth, during his visit to the school.  

Those who attended his announcement, among them Westfield State President Ramon Torrecilha and City of Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan were unaware of the sum of money they were to receive. Parenzo Hall is Westfield State University’s oldest building, remaining relatively unchanged since 1956.  

Westfield State University is among several other schools to benefit from the bond bill, including $13.4M to Framingham State University and $15M to MassBay Community College. Coverage will continue as further information comes forward.

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