UPDATE, 8:30 P.M Oct. 15: Last week, samples were taken from all three floors of the building. Two small storage rooms on the first floor, both of which had been deemed as non-living quarters, tested positive for low levels of lead dust. The rooms have been sealed off and the contractor is working on abatement. After the abatement is complete, the areas will be retested.
“Safety for our students is our number one priority,” Dr. Debra Thatcher, UCC’s president, said. “The building’s owner and the contractor on this project have been responsive and cooperative throughout this entire process.”
The contractor informed UCC it is not uncommon to find these types of environmental challenges in old buildings, and assured College officials that certified, licensed professionals are being hired to complete the mitigation. As the lessee of the Flegel Center, UCC is not responsible for the testing or the abatement.
“What we are responsible for is our students’ safety,” Dr. Thatcher said. “And students will not move in until all work is completed.”
UPDATE, 5 P.M Oct. 14: Move-in delayed until end of October, due to construction issues unrelated to lead.
Athlete housing in Roseburg is hard to find, especially after UCC added multiple new athletic programs in the last few years. The challenge appeared even more complex after reports that the Flegel Center, currently being remodeled for UCC athletes, had to be tested for lead dust, but plans for move-in are on track. Story below.
Chief Advancement Officer Tiffany Coleman says that there are no delays and UCC athletes “are still on target for our original move-in dates.” The move-in is scheduled for Oct. 15.
The News Review had reported that the move-in was delayed indefinitely.
“Finding affordable housing for first-time renters has been a difficult process for all students because of the lack of inventory in Roseburg,” UCC Athletic Director Craig Jackson said.
Gov. Kate Brown addressed Oregon’s housing shortage in her 2018 Housing Policy Agenda: “One of the biggest drivers of increasing homelessness and housing instability in Oregon is the shortage of affordable rental units in the state, especially for the state’s lowest-income residents. This shortage of affordable units has led to a high percentage of renters spending more than 50 percent of their incomes on rent.”
Brown estimated that Oregon “under-built 155,156 housing units” in the last 15 years. To deal with this problem for student athletes in Roseburg, UCC is funding the Flegel Center project.
“Just this group of 35 students will bring about $750,000 yearly into Douglas County,” said Jackson during a Roseburg City Council meeting on Aug. 12. When asked via email about the cost of the Flegel building, he added, “The approximate cost is $350,000.”
Before the athletes move in, however, the building is being tested for lead dust. According to Coleman, “Lead dust testing was supposed to be done today (Oct. 9). The results should come back within three days.” The wipe test is being used. The wipe test means someone goes in and wipes different surfaces of the building and then takes those samples back to a lab to be analyzed for the presence of lead.
Most Oregon Armories that had firing centers have experienced lead dust issues, including Roseburg’s Flegel Center. According to the 2018 report from the Oregon Military Department, the lead levels are below the threshold but the Occupational Health Organization still endorses of regularly scheduled cleaning.
Coleman addresses the concerns of lead dust in the Flegel Center: “As responsible stewards of public funds, and to ensure our students are not at risk of lead dust exposure, UCC took the extra step to ensure that the Flegel Center is safe. We asked the building owner to conduct the additional testing, and the owner complied.”
Jackson said UCC is trying to help athletes who want to live here find places and options to live. “We are excited about working with downtown businesses to show what Roseburg has to offer the people who reside in the downtown area.”
UCC will have two employees living in the Flegel Center full time to supervise the athletes who will be, for now, on the baseball team. “We will have the ability to expand in the future so it’s not just a baseball facility,” Jackson said. The dorm won’t house female athletes until further notice. Coleman says, “I don’t know if the dorm will ever be co-ed, but I do know that it currently is not.” She does say that The Mainstream can revisit this question as “plans and continued enrollment growth move forward.” There are alternative housing options available for female athletes at the moment.