BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The recent “bomb cyclone” really slam dunked the basketball courts at New York University’s new Paulson Center. The rapidly plummeting temperature during Christmas weekend caused pipes near the outside walls of the new 181 Mercer St. building to freeze and leak.
A local tipster called to say that the new courts were “submerged” after the university shut off the heat, and that the damages were in the realm of $10 million. However, John Beckman, a university spokesperson, said that’s all inaccurate.
“N.Y.U. did not ‘turn off the heat to its buildings,'” Beckman said. “Given that N.Y.U. closes its offices and operations and its nonresidential buildings from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, we turn the thermostats down to 60 degrees during this period. This is common practice at universities, and a longstanding practice at N.Y.U.; it saves energy and money to reduce the thermostats in unoccupied buildings.”
He stressed that it was the bomb cyclone not fiddling with the thermostat that unleashed the floodwaters, noting, “It is hardly uncommon for pipes near outside walls of buildings to freeze and leak, even in heated buildings. This is not a phenomenon unique to N.Y.U., and it’s what happened in the Paulson Center.’
“The basketball courts at the Paulson were not ‘submerged,'” he insisted. “There was water from a burst pipe; importantly and regrettably, some of that water infiltrated the subflooring beneath the basketball court floor. That presents issues for the flatness of the court floor, and, after review and efforts to dehumidify the court floor and subfloor, we have decided to proceed with replacement. Those repairs will be undertaken during the current semester.
“The replacement cost [for the courts’ flooring] is not $10 million,” he added. “That’s several times the anticipated cost, which we believe will be covered by insurance. We are working with our insurer.”