Log Cabin to cost too much


Matt Churella

Pitt-Johnstown administrators are not going to cover costs to renovate the Log Cabin, which does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Matt Churella, News Editor

Pitt-Johnstown administrators have decided to walk away from a project that would have made the Log Cabin, which is not accessible to those disabled, a safer place for students to party.

At a Jan. 24 Faculty Senate meeting, Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar said estimated costs to renovate the Log Cabin had climbed so high that he backed out of his promise to help fund the Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association’s project.

Finance and Administration Vice President Amy Buxbaum said the Log Cabin was constructed in the 1970s, before the federal Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990, which had set the standards for accessibility in buildings that are open for public events.

“The building’s restrooms and entrance do not meet the standards for accessibility in that an individual in a wheelchair could not enter the building without assistance and would not be able to enter the restrooms, which are very small,” she said.

Buxbaum said that the Log Cabin is restricted to private events, and the people invited to these events are the event sponsor’s responsibility.

She also said the Log Cabin cannot be used for university-sponsored events.

In 2011, the Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association Board members began fundraising money for the Log Cabin renovation project, which was estimated to cost $360,000, according to Buxbaum.

Buxbaum said Spectar met with Alumni Association Board members in August 2016 to propose that the university’s administrators would provide any additional funding to the then estimated cost of $400,000.

She said it was made clear to board members that administrators would not move forward with the project if the budget exceeded $400,000.

At the Faculty Senate meeting, Spectar said the budget had exceeded the estimated cost by a range of $150,000 to $180,000.

According to Buxbaum, when a project exceeds a planned budget, there are four options:  reduce the scope of the project, add funding, put the project on hold for future funding or decide not to do the project at all.

“In this case, the project cannot be reduced in scope and still meet accessibility requirements under the (Americans with Disabilities Act),” Buxbaum said.

Alumni Association Board President Gladys Go did not return an email requesting comment.

Alumni Association Board member Luke Trotz said, although he did not attend the board’s last meeting, he thought members were still looking to renovate Pitt-Johnstown’s Log Cabin.

“To my understanding, this is something we’re still trying to assist with,” he said.

Trotz said board members agreed upon an email sent to Buxbaum containing 30 questions asking what members could still do to move forward with the project.

He said they asked to receive a response by Feb. 5, but Trotz said he has not heard of any response as of Feb. 6.

“We’re just trying to see what we can do to help.”

Trotz said the project was to include remodeling the restrooms, sidewalks and adding a patio with nicer greenery.

Backroads literary magazine Editor-in-Chief Patrick Stahl said Backroads-sponsored Open Mic Night events had been moved to the Mt. Cat Club in the Student Union because he thought students would not want to walk to the Log Cabin in the dark and cold winter weather.

“Even for able-bodied individuals, the road leading down to the cabin is in poor shape, and it can be abominable in the winter,” Stahl said, adding that he thinks the cabin is not easy for students to navigate inside.

“My opinion is that improvements to the road leading to the cabin and to the restrooms in the cabin would benefit all people who wish to attend Log Cabin events.”

Buxbaum said the money raised by administrators for the project is to be used to pay architect fees and to possibly add a sound system to the cabin.