Jul 282009
Authors: Alexandra Sieh

Construction crews made their way to the West Lawn, at the heart of campus, this month to dig a water retention area that is designed to collect storm waters and prevent flooding in campus buildings.

This project, scheduled for completion in the fall semester, will lower the field at the corner of Meridian and University Avenue, 4.5 acres of recreation area, by 5 feet, flattening that area to install two soccer fields.

Fred Haberecht, the assistant director of landscape and planning with Facilities Management at CSU, said the project was intended to create “centralized storm water retention on campus,” rather than creating ponds at each new building site around campus.

This means that, rather than creating ditches at sites like Summit Hall, where lowered areas along the building collect storm water, the lowered West Lawn will create enough space for storm water to collect so nearby projects, such as the Indoor Practice Facility, won’t need that type of recession.

“We’re aggregating the little pots into this big area, creating one central facility,” Haberecht said.

“Instead of having a pond at the indoor practice field, for example, there will be more turf for recreation.”

This project, designed by Haberecht and David Hansen, also a Facilities Management landscape architect, has the excavation of the area scheduled for completion by Aug. 15, removing the heavy equipment and trucks from the site before students return for classes Aug. 24.

At that point, the landscaping company will come in to complete the irrigation and re-sod of the area this fall.

The entire project has a budget of $250,000, and Haberecht said they are “absolutely on budget” and on schedule at this point in the excavation.

A side benefit to the project is the creation of more usable sports fields, Haberecht said.

“Rather than a field with a hump in it, it will be a more usable situation,” he said.

This is a welcome addition to those in Campus Recreation. With the land in this area flattened and level, students can expect to enjoy two new soccer fields in an area that wasn’t easily used for recreational sports in the past.

“One of the best things about the renovations over there is that they’re looking at making the fields flat,” said Marsha Smeltzer, the associate director of the sports program at Campus Recreation.

“They’re creating a flat space that is more available to the teams,” Smeltzer said.

The fields created by this project have been designed as soccer fields and will include goal posts.

Dave Frock, Campus Recreation director of operations, said the decision was made because there is “a need for drop-in soccer fields, with soccer being so popular among students on campus.”

But this doesn’t mean only soccer will find a place on the new fields.

“Realistically, these fields are intended to give an opportunity for drop-in activities, especially in the evenings when we have intramural spots on the other fields near the (Campus Recreation Center),” Frock said. “It gives drop-in players an opportunity they didn’t otherwise have.”

Some students, including Kristen Johnson, a senior psychology major, think these fields will be an improvement to campus recreation.

“I like the idea of having soccer fields and extra areas to play and do other things,” Johnson said. “It will definitely help some of the sports teams to have room to practice.”

Despite the temporary change in appearance, with heavy equipment taking over what used to be green lawns, some students say the construction efforts are necessary.

“Construction is an eyesore temporarily, but it’s for the greater good,” said Kelly Garfield, a junior economics major. “If anything, these improvements will add potential for more events there.”

While students can expect to see the green lawn back in a year’s time, during construction, events like Ram Welcome will have to make due with the remaining lawn just outside of the Lory Student Center.

But Haberecht doesn’t expect other events like homecoming to be too affected by the construction.

Assistant Design Editor Alexandra Sieh can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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