By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
Defiance College will build a student union to replace the one damaged in a July 10 fire, the college’s board of trustees decided Saturday.
The new union, which will cost $4 million, will replace the Enders Student Union and should be ready for use by fall 1999, the college’s president said.
“When we analyzed the cost of renovating the old facility, we realized the cost wouldn’t be much higher to build a new union,” Dr. James Harris said.
The facility will be built on a grassy area just west of the Enders building.
It will be about 34,000 square feet, slightly larger than the Enders building.
“It will be the college’s new front door,” Dr. Harris said of the building, which will be on Clinton Street.
The summer fire began in an electrical outlet and did serious damage to the union’s second floor, which was mostly vacant. Parts of the first floor sustained water and smoke damage, officials said.
Officials estimated the damage at $1 million. The building was built in 1958.
The features of the new union have not been decided, but Dr. Harris said it probably will enable the college to use technology for long-distance learning.
Before the fire, the college was considering whether to renovate or rebuild the union as part of the college’s master plan.
Before the fire, officials estimated the union could be renovated for under $2 million. The fire pushed that figure closer to $2.5 million.
The possibility that the old building might have unknown structural damage contributed to the decision to build a union, Dr. Harris said.
No decision has been made on how to finance the new union. Officials hope to break ground on the project early next year and have the facility ready for students in the fall of 1999.
Students are using the parts of the Enders facility that were not damaged by fire. The cafeteria on the first floor, for example, has been cleared by the Defiance County health department and has been serving students since school began last month.