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Officials Say They'll Make Decision On Renovations to Quad Tomorrow

By John Rosenthal

After months of waiting, residents of Cabot House will finally learn at noon tomorrow if, and when, renovations to their decaying House will finally get underway.

That's when four contractors are expected to submit revised bids for renovations to Briggs Hall. The proposed renovations will be the first phase of a $27 million refurbishment project slated for the Radcliffe Quadrangle.

If the bids for phase one are close to $3.6 million--the price Harvard expects it to cost--signs of construction will begin Monday, Dean of the Faculty for Facilities R. Thomas Quinn said yesterday.

If all the bids are too high, however, University officials said they are unsure of their next step. One month ago, when construction was originally scheduled to begin, the Dimeo Construction Company of Providence, R.I. gave Harvard a bid of $4.1 million, 20 percent over what the University expected the first phase toe cost. Since then, Harvard has asked Dimeo and three other contractors to come back with cheaper bids for the project.

"I don't know what will happen if the bids come in too high," said Assistant Dean of the College Martha C. Gefter, who has supervised the financing of the project.

Dean of the College John B. Fox Jr. '59 has said in the past that postponement of the project for a year is a possibility if Harvard doesn't get the bid it is looking for. However, both Quinn and Gefter suggested that this was unlikely.

"If all the bids come in too high again, then that's what the project is going to cost," said Gefter, adding that the urgent need for repairs to Briggs might make a year's delay structurally dangerous.

"There are serious electrical problems there. Briggs is in bad shape," said Gefter. She added that Harvard has "put off work in Briggs in anticipation of the renovations."

Fox is out of town and could not be reached for comment.

In recent years, Cabot House, the oldest of the Quad Houses, has been plagued by leaky roofs, sewerage problems, and faulty electrical systems The problems came to a head last October when a second floor toilet backed-up and exploded, flooding two floors in Briggs Hall

Last summer Harvard completed structural and mechanical improvements on the River Houses

The College decided to postpone renovations to Cabot and North Houses--which unlike the River House renovations involve more demolition and reconstruction--until after it had finished work by the Charles in order to raise enough money for the costly Quad reconstruction.

Gefter and Quinn both said that work on Briggs would have to begin before August 1 for the project to remain on schedule.

After the project was postponed last month, Quinn said "things that really don't affect the quality of the renovations' would be eliminated from the project to allow completion of the first phase on time.

Quinn cited the decision not to place vanities in each Cabot House bathroom, opting instead for plain sinks, as a way to eliminate such an "unnecessary part of the project."

The renovations to Cabot House alone are expected to cost $12 million, while the cost of complete Quad renovations is expected to be around $27 million. Harvard currently has about $9 million in hand for the renovations.

Cabot House Master Myra A. Mayman said yesterday that she was assuming that all renovations would be done on time, but added that if there is a delay, "there will be people disappointed, with leaky ceilings," in Cabot House

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