Saybrook, Branford fund mini-renovations

As the University begins renovating the last of its residential colleges, facilities planners have also turned back to two of the first few to be revamped: Branford and Saybrook.

Both colleges’ floors, walls and roofs received routine maintenance this summer, the first summer in several years during which Branford and Saybrook did not house summer session students. Despite losing some of their discretionary funds to Yale’s general budget due to the University’s budget shortfall, the colleges’ masters also made a host of other improvements over the summer funded by both Yale’s maintenance budget and residential college funds — from replacing common room furniture in Branford to installing new TVs, a drum kit and other equipment in Saybrook.University planners set aside some funds each year to pay for building maintenance, making sure the campus never falls into disrepair, Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said.

“We try and refresh each residential college every three to four years,” said John Bollier, associate vice president for facilities.

The capital repair budget paid for new mattresses, clean curtains, restained floors and repainted walls in Branford and Saybrook, while the masters’ discretionary funds provided the budget for the rest, both masters said.

Ultimately, Hudak said, he spent approximately $100,000 from Saybrook’s discretionary budget. Smith declined to comment on how much Branford’s upgrades cost.

Saybrook and Branford were last renovated in the 2000-’01 academic year, leaving some parts of the colleges in need of upgrades nearly 10 years later, Saybrook College Master Paul Hudak said. And some of the renovations were not done properly the last time around, Branford College Master Steven Smith said.

“Because Saybrook was renovated 10 years ago, we were just really behind the times compared to most of the other colleges,” Hudak said.

The floor of Saybrook’s basement, for example, was upgraded from painted concrete — which frequently chips and peels — to the same seamless rubber floor used in other college basements, Bollier said.

But the majority of Saybrook’s summer changes were designed to make students more comfortable in the basement and other common areas, said Kyle Skinner ’11, who chaired the “Wood Panel” — Hudak’s tongue-in-cheek name for the Saybrook student advisory committee, whose members had wanted to bring wood paneling to Saybrook.

Although wood paneling turned out to be too expensive, Skinner and the other students used student feedback to suggest and design a long list of improvements, including a large touch-screen “flyerboard” TV mounted by the dining hall, new furniture and lighting in the library, new rugs and sofas in the Athenaeum Room and new equipment in the music practice room.

Meanwhile, the Saybrook Underbrook, the college’s theater space, has been upgraded with new audio-visual equipment and lighting to bring it up to the standards of other campus performance areas, Hudak said.

The game room in Saybrook’s basement also has a new sofa, wood trim, carpets and hanging hammock chairs, Skinner said.

Branford’s common room has two new sets of tables and chairs, as well as new sofas, rugs and armchairs, Smith said. In addition, the Branford library has new chairs, while the computer lab has been recarpeted.

Hudak said he recognized that the new purchases may seem extravagant in a period of budget cuts, but that he and the facilities planners had attempted to complete the mini-renovation using saved funds and at as low a cost as possible.

“I didn’t view any of what we did as being frivolous in any way,” Hudak said. “We went to hotel liquidators to buy furniture. We cut corners wherever we could.”

Facilities planners also installed netting on the roofs of both colleges to prepare for replacing roof tiles over the next two years.

Comments