UNI: Price Lab to Come Down in the Future

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

Price Lab students, faculty and guests enjoy a picnic lunch at the Price Lab Field Day Tuesday, May 29, 2012. (BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer)


By Belinda Yeung

WATERLOO, Iowa --- A statement made Friday during a court hearing regarding the closure of the Malcolm Price Laboratory School has prompted the University of Northern Iowa to reveal its expectations for the now-shuttered building.

Attorney Tom Frerichs told Senior Judge Alan Pearson that "today (July 27) UNI is accepting contracts to demolish the facilities formerly known as the Malcolm Price Laboratory School." Frerichs is seeking a rehearing for the 37 parents and educators who said the Iowa Board of Regents overstepped their authority when the voted to close the school. On June 25 Pearson sided with the state, stating the board had the authority to close the school.

Jim O'Connor, a spokesman for the university, called Frerichs statement "blatantly inaccurate."

He said there are currently three projects associated with the west wing of the school in the bidding process, including asbestos abatement, utility modifications and the renovation of the swimming pool area to house the UNI Child Development Center.

"The expectation, at this time, is that at some point in the future it would be demolished and returned to green space, which would reduce the university's footprint and further our sustainability efforts," O'Connor said, however, that point has yet to be determined.

O'Connor said that when the university chooses to demolish a building it must get prior approval from the board of regents.

"There is a defined process we have to follow with the regents and it would be very public," he said.

Frerichs said that Pearson's decision failed to address the real issue, which is that the university, under state law, was expected to be the home of the research and development school effective July 1.

"The court has to decide does closing the Price Lab school ... effectively close the research and development school?" Frerichs said. "And, Your Honor, the clear answer to that is yes, because as the court knows when it wrote its decision we were two years, 11 months, and 25 days into a three-year process. That process was set to expire five days after the court entered its decision. That process says now we have a research and development school and we will use those facilities that were known as the Price Laboratory School."

Tim Vavricek, an attorney with the Iowa Attorney General's Office in Des Moines, argued that there is no "recognized procedure" allowing a rehearing in such cases.

Pearson said he expects to rule on the rehearing by early this week.

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