KOMU 8 Answers Twitter, Facebook Questions on University Village
COLUMBIA - Following an apartment walkway collapse that took the life of a Columbia firefighter earlier this year, KOMU 8 News obtained more than a thousand pages of records detailing conditions at the complex to gauge whether the accident was preventable.
A walkway in University Village Apartments building 707 collapsed Feb. 22nd, killing Lt. Bruce Britt. Documents revealed concerns over the complex's safety have existed for years. One report even suggested the university demolish the complex all together.
Reporter William Joy and a team of producers sifted through hundreds of pages detailing maintenance requests, inspection reports and e-mails detailing the concerns over University Village. Below are answers to viewer questions about what the documents revealed and how the university responded.
Joy spoke to Christian Basi, MU's spokesman. Basi told him the university performs yearly inspections of the walkways.
Since the University Village complex falls under state jurisdiction, the city does not inspect the buildings. MU tells KOMU 8 News it is currently discussing the future of the complex and should have an answer within a few months.
Residents of 707 (where the walkway collapsed) were relocated following the collapse. Furthermore, a letter from University Student Apartments Office Manager Mark Partise said residents have until March 21 to decide if they wish to terminate their lease. The complex is also offering assistance for residents who wish to find additional off-campus housing.
One report in 2008 said rennovation was not an option and the building needed to be demolished because of deterioration and structural concerns.
Joy asked Christian Basi, MU's spokesman, about the 2008 report. Basi said "We were working with the demands of the students and we did not want to eliminate that potential options for our students." Basi also said the costs of demolition were prohibitive.
Joy asked Basi the same question. Basi said, "We were working with the demands of the students and that area is very popular. We did not want to eliminate that potential option for our students when it is used quite a bit."
The documents released by the university showed $1.1 million was spent on repairs at University Village since 2009.
When MU announced Thursday that football coach Gary Pinkel will get a $300,000 raise, several viewers asked how the athletics department found funds to do that while the university was saying it could not afford to demolish and rebuild University Village.
According to MU Athletics, the department self-generates more than 99 percent of its operating revenue. The department said it has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to university construction projects.
No residence halls are specifically designated as "athletic" residence halls on campus. According to MU's Residential Life website, students must be 21+, married or graduate students to qualify for living at a MU-owned apartment complex such as University Village.
Whether or not an athlete chooses to live at the complex after turning 21 is a matter of personal preference. MU staff members have lived at the University Village complex in previous years.
(Taylor Beck, William Joy, Jen Lask, Nicole Krasavage and Annie Hammock contributed to this report).
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