The Phoenix Team of Saint Joseph’s College, organized to ensure the eventual reopening of the campus, released information on Monday, June 9 about an ongoing water line project.

“Getting the Rensselaer Campus ready for a future reopen will require a number of major renovations and updates,” the college stated. “While we’ve recently raised over $100,000 to invest in updating Schwietermann Hall, we are also working on other projects that will get us closer to being ready for the future.”

Those funds for Schwietermann Hall were raised at the college’s first annual Purple Tie Dinner event in June. This event, which notably featured legendary Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka as a speaker, was originally thought to have only raised around $95,000. Another important partner in the college’s ongoing projects, however, is Rensselaer’s own City Hall.

“With the gracious help of Mayor Stephen Wood and the City Utilities Staff, a tie-in was created to the Campus and our Facilities Team has begun the process of retiring our old water system and connecting a modern city-supplied service to the many buildings we have,” the college stated.

By all indications, transition is sorely needed. Maintaining the college’s decades-old water lines and treatment facilities was apparently an “increasingly difficult and expensive” challenge for the school, even before it closed in Spring 2017.

“While the campus is currently closed to the public, this water system needed to be maintained to keep buildings in good condition,” the college stated. “Because of this we still had dozens of line breaks over the winter, requiring our facilities people to often work around-the-clock making emergency repairs.”

Discussions between the city and the college about tying into the city’s water supply began earlier this year. This project will eliminate the need for the college to rely on independent water and treatment facilities and move the campus to an “on demand” water system. This is intended to “reduce the number of significant expenses as well as tying future water usage to actual need.”

Important items which needed to be operational as soon as possible were the campuses’ fire hydrants. This was a challenge to the college’s utility staff, as many of the valves and mains had apparently corroded to the degree that they could not be repaired and needed to be replaced.

Along with this information, the college expressed gratitude for “the ongoing donations and contributions we have received from the alumni and the community.”

“As we continue to receive support we’ll post more about this and other work that is being done around the campus,” the college stated.

Neither Mayor Wood nor David Daniels, Superintendent of the city’s Water & Sewage Department, could be reached for comment before our production deadline, due to both of them attending an ongoing event this week.