Mason addresses on-campus construction, recovery


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As the new school year gets underway, a portion of the University of Iowa campus is still scarred by the summer’s various flooding and resulting mitigation projects, while T. Anne Cleary Walkway has yet another brand-new look.

Intense sandbagging and HESCO barriers put up in May cost the university $5.2 million, UI spokesperson Tom Moore said, a portion of which may potentially be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Although officials told The Daily Iowan in July that landscape restoration in response to these efforts would be complete before the start of the semester, President Sally Mason said on Monday that the T. Anne Cleary Walkway had been the university’s main landscaping focus, while the Arts Campus is not a pressing issue.

“I suspect we’re going to take some time and really think hard about what kinds of landscaping we should be doing around some of these buildings,” Mason said.

UI senior Peter Kroeger who lives off-campus on Iowa City’s West Side, said although he understands the complexity of the situation, he doesn’t have a lot of faith in UI officials, because they haven’t yet made a statement about what’s going to be done concerning the damage in that area.

“I would like [Mason] and the Board of Regents to come out and say we have a plan to fix this, not a plan about our future in 2016,” Kroeger said. “I’m a senior. I’m not going to see those buildings ever. I’m going to be here another year. What about the landscape now?”

He walks along the river on the way home and hopes to see some improvements in the area within the upcoming weeks.

Mason, however, has other plans.

“I thought it was essential that that Cleary Walkway be beautified in a way that spoke to the rest of the campus, the way we feel about the campus,” she said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the landscaping that was done there.”

Just before the start of fall semester last year, updates to the walkway cost the university $524,000. The installation of the Ridge and Furrow, or “the brain” sculpture located between the Chemistry Building and the Pomerantz Center, cost $160,000.

This summer, the UI budgeted another $600,000 on the walkway, out of a total $2.9 million annual campus landscaping budget.

“The only additional money we get is $400,000 from administration, which is called our landscape improvement fund,” said Bob Brooks, UI Facilities Management associate manager of building and landscape services.

Part of that fund was used on the Cleary Walkway project, as well as on other small improvements throughout campus, he said.

UI spokesperson Tom Moore said the point of the Cleary project was to make the walkway as attractive and appealing as possible.

“What I don’t understand with T. Anne Cleary Walkway is it looks perfectly fine,” Kroeger said. “I just don’t understand the construction sometimes. You kind of just shake your head, but what can you do? I’m only a student.”

As of now, Brooks said, there’s too much work going on with the Hancher-Voxman-Clapp facilities to really do much about landscaping in that area. He said the new Art Building replacement and Hancher do include landscaping features in their master plans, however.

“Once all that’s done, that’s probably when we will come back in and do some major re-landscaping,” he said.

Hancher, however, is still a top priority, and the project still has a spring 2016 completion date, according to Facilities Management.

“Probably the most dramatic thing you’re going to notice here in the next couple months is Hancher. Old Hancher Auditorium is going to start coming down,” Mason said. “Once the internal deconstruction is done on that project, the rest should come pretty quickly, and it’s going to be pretty dramatic when that building disappears from the landscape.”

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