Students returned last week to a slightly spiffier campus than they had left, despite budget constraints that are limiting spending on capital projects.

Most notably, the gleaming Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness is nearing completion, scheduled to open September 22.

"It's on time and it's in-budget," said Director of Capital Projects Don Borkowski.

"It looks like we're going to get a LEED Silver certification," he added, referring to the environmental sustainability standard previously attained by Osher and West Halls. Earlier this year Watson Arena earned basic LEED certification.

Dayton Arena was also demolished over the summer; the space will re-open as a parking lot by mid-October.

Additionally, Building 3 of the Maine Street Station was completed "and is now functioning as a dance studio and town meeting space," said Borkowski.

"We haven't had as many projects going as we have in years past," he said, and there are no more major projects on the horizon.

Director of Facilities Operations and Maintenance Ted Stam tells a different side of the story—less ground-breaking, perhaps, but no less important.

"Every dollar you pay in maintenance today avoids a much higher expenditure in the future, so our philosophy is to continue maintenance," he said.

This year's $4.275 million major maintenance budget is up slightly from last year's.

Maintenance consisted largely of steam pipe repairs, including replacing a large segment running from the northeast corner of Hubbard Hall to Coles Tower.

The College is also wrapping up three years of extensive maintenance on Searles Science Building, which previously included replacing the roof and excavating and repairing the foundation.

This summer, said Stam, "we stripped the façade of paint, did masonry repairs, and added a breathable stain," to keep the paint from trapping moisture and causing the brick to deteriorate.

"The color choice was interesting, because over time Searles has been renovated so many times that it ended up with a patchwork of bricks, so we tried to pick one that was represented by most of the bricks," said Stam.

"We ran it by the State of Maine historical society, and with their assistance we chose the color," he added.

On the maintenance end, then, things are running smoothly.

"We've remained within budget, we continue to meet our budget expectations, and we have received favorable pricing," said Stam, "so we continue to move forward."