All parts of the Mueller Center were re-opened to the Rensselaer community on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 and have been operating as normal since that date. The initial sprinkler pipe burst was discovered on Monday, February 15, and that discovery triggered an immediate closing of the building until the pipe and water damage could be repaired. By the time the pipe burst was discovered, the main doors to the building had about half an inch of ice frozen to them, according to Director of the Mueller Center Steve Allard.
Staff from Environmental and Site Services were on site at the Mueller Center performing an assessment of the damages immediately after they were reported to Public Safety. Allard was on site by 7 pm that night working alongside ESS staff. ESS staff members on site included Rita Badger, Gabriel Okunoye, Dave Roberts, and John Sunkis. Supervising them were Clara Cannon and Towanda Colquiett. Annete Chism and Judy Corbett from the Environmental Health and Safety department were frequently consulted throughout the cleanup process in order to make sure that industry practices were followed and that the process was carried out safely.
On Tuesday, February 16, the assessment of the damages was completed and it was decided that the flooring on both the main floor cardio room and in the basement had to be replaced because of the water damage. The upper floor classrooms were unaffected by the flooding. If flooring does not dry of sprinkler water in 48 hours, in order to comply with environmental safety guidelines and best practices, it needs to be replaced. The carpet was replaced in the main floor cardio room in the days right after President’s Day and the cardio room was able to be reopened to the RPI community Friday, February 19. The carpet leading to the weight room was replaced in the early hours of the morning on Monday, February 29 so as not to impact the operating hours of the cardio room.
The rubber flooring material was ripped out of the weight room on Tuesday, March 1, and the weight room floor was given the rest of the that first week to fully dry. Upon further inspection, it was determined that the walls of Strength and Conditioning Coach Rachel Jones’s cubicle were damaged beyond repair and that it needed to be rebuilt. Allard told The Poly that the process is going to start as soon as possible. In fact, water was discovered all the way from the stairs to the weight room to the last pole by the far wall of the weight room where the cable crossover machine was. The crossover machine was the only machine unaffected by water damaged.
On Tuesday, February 23, flooring contractor Cavalier Flooring started the process of laying down new flooring for the weight room. In order to lay down the new flooring, all of the equipment in the weight room needed to be moved to the basement of the Armory. In the process of moving the equipment, staff needed to vacuum, dry, and disinfect every piece of equipment that was not declared to be a loss due to the flooding. The Mueller Center was required to dispose of anything that absorbed the contaminated water, including, but not limited to, the foam rollers, black mats, and boxes of chalk. No items that were declared to be contaminated are able to be given away, again in order to comply with health and safety best practices.
As Cavalier Flooring started their work on the basement weight room, they were the ones who set the timeline as to when the Mueller Center could be reopened. In fact, Allard was hesitant to give an exact time as to when the weight room could be reopened because it would vary based on the pace of the flooring contractor. In order to comply with Institute insurance requirements, only professional staff of the Mueller Center were allowed to help the flooring contractor in completing their work. The process of laying out new flooring took a week to complete. As the new floor tiles were put down, the equipment was put back in its correct place by Muller Center staff.
The process of laying down the new weight room flooring was completed by Tuesday, March 1, around noon. Once the flooring was done and all of the equipment was put back in its proper place and set back up, student workers from the Mueller Center did one last wipe down and mop of the floor.
Allard spoke to the fact that it required a real team effort between Mueller Center, EHS, and ESS staff in order for the damages to have been repaired in the timely manner that they were. By this point, he said that operations at the Mueller Center have fully returned to normal and that the 4,500–5,000 people it serves a week can, alongside the staff, get back into their daily routines as if nothing ever happened to the building.