Physical plant considers new laundry machine options for residence halls

Allegheny College holds a lease with ASI Laundry that expires this year, and the college has received proposals from three companies, ASI Laundry, all Laundry, and Caldwell & Gregory, to lease new machines.

Brian Gillette, associate director of physical plant, said the department was leaning toward one company at this time, but did not wish to release which company until the department could review the company’s service record.

Allegheny will not sign a lease until near the end of this academic year, or even after students have left for the summer. Regardless, installations of new washers and dryers in all residence halls will begin in the summer of 2016, and the new machines will be installed before the start of the  fall semester.

The college currently spends $19,000 per semester for all campus machines before utility savings. The department expects a small increase in cost when they finalize a new contract.

The college was presented with the option of charging students who surpassed a limited amount of uses of the washers and dryers set by the college, but the additional hardware necessary to enforce this led the college not to pursue this route, according to Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Linda Wetsell.

It is possible the new systems will integrate technology allowing students to download an app and check the availability of the washers and dryers on their phone, according to Gillette.

Sustainability Coordinator Kelly Boulton, ’02, said the college spends time reviewing the various options in terms of their energy efficiency. It seemed that front-loading washers would be the most efficient and will likely be the machine of choice.

Henry Ditzel, ’17, mentioned the difficulties Allegheny’s Phi Kappa Psi chapter has experienced with the current machines.

“At one point, one of the washers was just like filled up with water and we don’t really know why, so we of course just didn’t use it, and waited for it to be fixed. Which, it didn’t take all that long, but long enough that people were like, ‘We can’t do our laundry,’” said Ditzel.

The increasing incidence of repair issues are part of the reason the college chose not to automatically renew its lease, instead requesting proposals from the three aforementioned companies.

Kristin Caja, ’16, said she would be pleased with new washers and dryers if she were not graduating this year.

“They like leak, and they’re not cleaned over the summer or ever, really,” said Caja.

ASI comes to campus a few times a week to do preventative maintenance, cycling through the different laundry rooms, Gillette said.

“When they’re going through their preventative maintenance visit…they do interior cleaning,” Gillette said.

It is unlikely, based on the current infrastructure, that the campus will have more machines per dorm than it does currently. Gillette was optimistic that features such as the app for checking availability would help to alleviate some of the current congestion.

“We just want to be sure that we give students the best possible service we can,” said Gillette.