A Hummel Report Investigation
A well-known state office building gets millions of dollars in much-needed renovationsl; from electrical upgrades and roof repairs to replacement windows and a fresh coat of paint. But it’s the makeover of the building’s bathrooms that is raising questions: Why was it the biggest ticket item - $700,000, a price tag that includes marble sinks and stalls?
It is the building where many Rhode Islanders got their first driver’s license or had a car registered. The old DMV on Smith Street left more than two decades ago, allowing the state Department of Transportation to take over its first-floor offices.
Let’s just say: time has not been kind to the building, which is now occupied entirely by the DOT.
Reanud: ``We took over many complexes that had not seen any significant work in decades.’’
Ron Renaud is the executive director of the state Department of Administration, which oversees many of the state’s office buildings and is the landlord, in effect, for the DOT. When Renaud took over in 2006 the DOT building - directly across the street from the State House and adjacent door to his own office - was near the top of the list for much-needed renovations.
Hummel: ``What struck you when you walked through that building?’’
Renaud: ``Peeling paint chips in diameter size of 10 to 12 inches. Windows that were breezy, leaky. Roofs that were leaking and we were getting calls for water infiltration and you could see water dripping down walls that were stained, ceilings stained - the building was in complete disrepair.’’
So the state began a long-term fix up, with plans to pour in $2.5 million over a six-year period, beginning in 2008.
It included $625,00 for window replacement.
$470,000 for roof repairs.
$357,000 for electrical upgrades.
Another $250,000 for fire code upgrades.
And $135,000 for interior painting.
But it is the eight bathrooms scattered through the four floors that caught our attention after someone who works in the building contacted The Hummel Report.
So we took a visit of our own last month and found some pretty impressive rest rooms. Complete with marble sinks and stalls, stained birch to match the previous oak doors and tile walls and floors. They are an oasis in what is - let’s be honest - a dumpy-looking building.
The total cost: more than $700,000.
But did the state need to spend an average of nearly $90,000 per bathroom?