Southern Miss plans to demolish Elam Arms

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Damage still lingers across the southern end of the Southern Miss campus from last month's tornado. The rebuilding work is underway, but it is expected to be a long process.

Christopher Crenshaw, director of the Physical Plant at USM, said plans are under way to have the damaged Elam Arms building along Hardy Street demolished. The demolition bid was already approved before the tornado, but work is expected to take several weeks longer than expected, as the building must be cleared of tornado debris and damage before demolition work can begin.

"I expect it will take about 45 days and we will be started to get this building cleaned up inside so that the workers can work safely," explained Crenshaw. "After about 45 days, you'll start to see the demolition crews in here starting to work."

No future buildings are currently planned for the space, and USM is currently exploring the most cost effective use of the land. Crenshaw said the land may be returned to green space or graveled out.

Crenshaw also says plans are in the works to replace the lost greenscape along Hardy Street. The design plans are currently being completed and they hope to have a community meeting in the near future for residents to voice their opinions of what they would like to see in the new design.

"We want feedback on that, and ideas, and suggestions," said Crenshaw. "We will probably run that on our website for seven to ten days. Offer the public and our community the opportunity to have some input on the front of the campus and how we bring it back."

Repair work also continues on the historic Alumni House in partnership with the Department of Archives and History.

While most of the projects currently underway will be primarily funded through insurance monies, the landscape project is an exception. Crenshaw says they expect the new project to cost well over the insurance payout. Instead, this project will be completed in phases as funding allows. The USM Foundation will also set up a fund to allow for donations towards the beautification project.

Workers were also at work Tuesday, starting to rebuild the damaged fence line along Hardy street.

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