Future of some UW System buildings up in the air after committee vote

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- This week the State Building Commission was split on Governor Tony Evers' $2.5 billion plan for public buildings around the state.

Included in that proposal was more than $160 million for four projects at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

"The most important project in the budget is phase two of our Prairie Springs Science Center and that is vitally important to the future of science education here at UW-L," says UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow. "There are also some repairs that need to be made on some of our older buildings."

The proposal also included renovating residence halls and building a new athletics fieldhouse at UW-L.

In total, nearly half of the $2.5 billion budget was earmarked for projects throughout the entire UW System.

In a statement following Wednesday's vote, UW System President Ray Cross says in part,

"Over 60% of our buildings are between 45 and 70 years old. The risks to safety, to our maintenance costs, and to Wisconsin's ability to attract and retain students are only growing."

For UW-L, Gow says the projects the university wants to do would have an impact beyond just the campus.

"We have very strong programs in pre-medicine, pre-veterinary. So really the future of the state's healthcare I think is vitally important and the Prairie Springs Science Center will play a key role in making the students ready to do those things," said Gow.

Following the vote by the State Building Commission, the proposal now goes to the Joint Finance Committee.

That committee meets when the legislature completes its budget later this year.