University of Maine system aims to invest $1.2 billion in infrastructure repairs

ORONO, Maine (WMTW) – The University of Maine system is aiming to invest $1.2 billion to replace and renovate aging school infrastructure.

The ultimate goal is to catch up on needed repairs and increase enrollment at campuses around the state with modernized facilities.

The plans include 400 projects. Eighteen of the projects are demolitions that are estimated to cost $19 million. One of the sites is Dickey-Wood Hall, a dormitory on the USM Gorham campus that’s been closed for nine years to save on maintenance costs. Other projects include renovations and new construction.

“As we went through budget challenges over the last couple of decades, you know, one of the first places you go to cuts is deferred maintenance, and so, we’ve seen gradually, the condition of our facilities kind of slowly deteriorate over the years,” University of Maine chief financial officer Ryan Low.

The projects, which are part of the new five-year plan, were laid out during a Board of Trustees meeting that took place on Sept. 10-11.

Some of the projects are fully funded, but many are not.

“We’re hopeful that, you know, we’ll make the case both to the legislature and the congressional delegation that, with additional resources, here’s the type of things that we could do,” said Low. “So, again, it’s important to have a plan to be able to make that case.”

The plans come amid declining student enrollment in the UMaine system. Low says the current budget has been updated to reflect the decreased enrollment, which puts the system in a better position financially.