In the wake of my article about faulty Annex doors that was in the Oct. 17 CT issue, I was stopped by many classmates, faculty and Eastman alumni who thanked me for making a scene.
However, I also received a phone call from the Public Relations Director at Eastman Martial Bednar, a former Arts Leadership Program teacher of mine. He asked me to speak with the facilities department regarding the article. As I am currently enrolled in two Russian studies courses, I found the prospect of meeting two administrators in a hidden basement office to discuss my newspaper article strangely unsettling.
Fortunately, the guys in the basement turned out to be quite friendly, professional and democratic. Lou Wiesner and Harvey Gamble are the director and assistant director, respectively, of the facilities department, and are responsible for the upkeep of the Annex.
It happens that the current department became aware of the decades-old problem of practice room doors rather recently, in the spring of this year. Wiesner assumed his post about 19 months ago.
Since last semester, Wiesner and Gamble have determined that two things need to be fixed in order to keep the doors closed ? the black casing around the doors, as well as the complex handle mechanism.
The foam casing, according to the facilities directors, was installed around1925. This is why it isn’t always recognized as ‘foam’ to the idle examiner ? it has become hard and crackly, and therefore much less effective for sound proofing, as well as for holding the doors into place ? two important attributes of a good practice room.
Not surprisingly, the casing was difficult to track down 75 years after its last appearance, and seemed to be a lost cause until Gamble happened upon a small package of it in a home improvement store. Eastman then ordered a large quantity of the foam casing material from the manufacturer.
Here’s the good news ? they are waiting for a materials to be shipped, at which point they will begin installation. The facilities office hopes that new casing will solve most of the problems.
However, there’s a more difficult factor at work ? the door handles themselves. The door handles are so hefty because they are connected to a long metal rod inside the door.
Unfortunately, the hardware is bent and doesn’t sit well. I also asked about the cause of the mysterious “hot spot” in the Annex ? a cluster of warm practice rooms ? but alas, they are still looking into this. Is it the ghost of George Eastman?
Wiesner and Gamble would like to extend their apologies for any frustration caused by the condition of the doors. Wiesner promised, “We will crack this [problem].” He also stressed that students should feel free to contact the facilities office at any time to report problems, comments or requests.
As Gamble stated, they work best with “open channels of communication.”
The department of four managers and 25 staff is responsible for the maintenance of the main building, Annex, Eastman Theatre, Sibley Library, new offices in Eastman Place and the Student Living Center.
When asked what he thought about the upcoming changes, junior oboist Kevin May said, “I think the changes will cast a better light on our school and our administration, especially to prospective students.”
They have also worked closely with Monroe County in order to add extra crossing time to the stoplight at East and Gibbs, and worked with the Students’ Association in order to buy new chairs for Room 120 ? more come every year ? and another student committee, “Walk for Light” to find areas of the school grounds which are in need of more lighting.
Wiesner proposed developing a student committee to tackle general maintenance concerns, in order to develop a closer relationship with students. His office is located in the basement of the main building, between the Cave and the back staircase, and he can also be reached at 274-1170.
According to Wiesner, the facilities office and the student body can be “a powerful combination.” Don’t be afraid to approach them with suggestions.
Caltvedt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.