SHAPE stairs nearing completion


Rebecca Flieder

The stairs in front of the SHAPE facility get a makeover after some much needed repairs.

The staircase outside the SHAPE fitness center has been long overdue for a rebuild, and that process is finally underway. The old concrete stairway has been completely demolished and carted away, and preparations for installation of new steps are nearing completion.
As anyone using the fitness center can attest, crumbling concrete steps have increasingly become safety hazards for those entering and exiting the building. Students leaving the facility have voiced concerns with the staircase and are glad to see the problem is getting addressed.
“When I leave volleyball practice at SHAPE, I use the ramp, because the railing is loose, and I have lost my footing on the missing pieces or wide cracks in the stairs,” said Brooke Scheier, NVU-J senior and women’s volleyball player.
NVU-J senior Arthur Clayton said an accident on the staircase could have been game changing. “If I rolled my ankle on that staircase leaving a soccer workout, my season would most likely be over,” he said.
NVU Director of Facilities Michael Stevens said although there have been no reports of any injuries, he is aware of the concern. “We build something, it falls apart and we fix it. That’s what we’re here for – to make sure it gets done and everyone is safe.”
Stevens also said the university struggled to find a contractor, which is why it took so long to get the rebuilding of the SHAPE staircase started. “Our tradesmen in Vermont have become very hard to come by,” he said. “We have been trying to line a contractor up all summer and spring. Luckily, we found one in time to tackle the SHAPE staircase.”
The SHAPE staircase is not the only one that needs repair on campus. The Dewey staircase is also experiencing structural issues but may not be repaired until next year due to the lost time and priorities.
“If it were a little earlier in the season, we may have tackled the Dewey one this year. We just didn’t have that opportunity,” said Stevens. “The SHAPE staircase was deteriorating faster than the Dewey staircase, and that’s why we chose to do that one first.”
One student concerned with student safety believes that the Dewey staircase should have been taken care of first because it gets more traffic. Right now, only a cone has been placed there to warn people the staircase is deemed unsafe.
“I am sure it is a hard staircase to fix, because it gets a lot of student traffic, but that’s exactly why I think it should have been a priority,” said Turner Ross, NVU-J student and public safety officer.
COVID-19 was also a contributing factor to the delay of spring construction projects at the university and in the community. “Everyone’s construction projects in the area got pushed back for weeks and months,” said Stevens. “So, once we started opening up the economy, it was as if we opened up a spigot. It was too much work and not enough providers.”
Reconstruction of the SHAPE staircase is scheduled to be completed by the end of November.