By Natalia Panfilova
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Taft Hall was recently shut down with signs posted about asbestos as college officials plan to renovate the building for student services. The reopening is scheduled for March 2015.
As soon as the Kevin G. Halpern Hall for science and health education opened its doors for students, the existing science building, Taft Hall, was shut down for the renovation.
“Danger, asbestos, keep out,” read the signs on the closed Taft Hall doors. Asbestos, which has been found to cause cancer and lung diseases, was widely used in construction projects. However, senior construction director-office administration Ronald Garbowski assured there was nothing to worry about.
“It’s all self-contained, state-regulated,” Garbowski said. “It stays there. It’s not dangerous until you will start breaking it into pieces. And we are cleaning everything out. So there will be like a brand new building. Asbestos will be gone.”
Garbowski said the reopening was scheduled for March 2015 and the renovation hadn’t started yet. The project will occur in several stages. Currently, construction workers are doing the removal.
Taft Hall is being renovated because Camden County College has built a $30 million science building. College officials plan to convert Taft Hall into a “one-stop” student services center at an estimated cost of $9 million to $10 million. Garbowski said the removal alone costs $700,000.
The first floor of Taft Hall will be classrooms. The registration office, the business office and all the administration offices will go into the redesigned building. The present administration buildings will be demolished.
The dean of the division of school and community academic programs, Frederick L. Cappello, will be among those whose offices will move.
“I’m not sure where they are going to put my unit. I’d like to know,” Cappello said. “We were told at one point – Taft building, third floor. Then we were told first floor at the student center, where the advisement is, and that is where we left it there. We were not given any dates. Nothing has been set, as far as I know.”
His office is in Wilson Hall East, which is one of the buildings planned to be demolished.
“Hopefully, we will move soon, because this is an old building,” Cappello said. “It’s very cold in winter and very hot in summer. In other words it needs to go.”