Special to the Mustang Daily
Nancy Reid has a vision. She wants to create a new terrace and pathway along the back side of Clyde P. Fisher Science Hall (Building 33). She has drawn up a plan with the help of some landscape architecture students, and has been showing the plan to committees and faculty all across campus.
What she doesn’t have is the money.
Reid, operations supervisor of the biological sciences department, said the makeshift dirt pathway that many students currently use behind the building, which connects the North Mountain and Cerro Vista dorms to the central part of campus, is unsafe and unattractive. She wants to make it better, for the well-being of the students and for the beauty of the building, she said.
But she’s going to need more than just good intentions to make the project a reality, Associate Vice President for Facilities Mark Hunter said.
“Just the basic, legal, ADA-compliant sidewalk and ramp could potentially cost between $50,000 and $250,000,” Hunter said.
No estimate has been made yet for the cost of the terrace because Facilities is looking at the pathway and terrace as two separate projects, Reid said.
“A terrace like that is certainly an infrastructure improvement,” she said. “It’s an enhancement; it’s not a need. But it will be a unified project when it happens.”
The projects will need to be built at the same time if both are approved, Reid said. It would be more time-and cost-effective to build them at the same time from a construction standpoint, she said.
Students need a safe, convenient way to get from the North Mountain dorms to the central part of campus, Reid said. Instead of using the longer pathways already in place, they have blazed their own shortcut behind the building.
“Students, seeking a path to the center of campus, have carved a trail through the junipers, across the A1 parking lot, then down the lawn and over a low retaining wall for access to central campus,” she said.
The dirt path is filled with hazards like rebar and roots that the students could trip on, Reid said. In the winter, the path becomes muddy and slippery and students have slipped and fallen on the path. The pathway is also totally non-accessible to disabled students and it is one of least attractive places on campus, she said.
“There’s no other place on campus that looks this bad,” Reid said. “The new path will provide a safe, beautiful, ADA-compliant walkway connecting the northern campus housing areas to the center of campus, replacing a hazardous, student-carved dirt path.”
A stairway and ADA-accessible ramp would be added to the new path to connect it to the second part of the project, the terrace, Reid said.
“The terrace will give students who attend class in Fisher Hall a beautiful, wind-protected area for study and social interaction. Housing may also find this as an excellent space for students from the adjacent dorms,” she said.
Biomedical engineering freshman Jamie Ko said she is on board with the idea of a new terrace and pathway.
“I use the dirt path almost every day,” Ko said. “It’s pretty sketchy though, so I think it would definitely be helpful if the school could build something safer. The terrace would be nice too. Fisher is kind of an ugly building, so at least it would be something to make it prettier.”
The project has been positively received by many Cal Poly staff and faculty, including Cal Poly College of Math and Science Dean Philip Bailey, as well as Associate Dean, Dean Wendt, Reid said.
Hunter said he would support the project if Reid can come through with the money.
“It would be a nice improvement,” Hunter said. “If she can make a good plan and show us that she has the funds, we’d be happy to build it for her.”
Reid must still submit a formal project request to facilities in order to make the project a reality, Hunter said. More importantly, she would have to prove she has financial backing.
Because budgets are tight, it is unlikely that the project will be funded by the state, Hunter said.
“It’s an issue of where to spend money at a time when funds are very limited,” he said.
Reid had initially looked into seeing if some money for the pathway could come from ADA funds.
Cal Poly has a “campus transition plan” to make the campus more ADA-friendly. They can use general maintenance funds to cover serious accessibility issues. However, even though the pathway would be ADA accessible, campus transition funds could not be used because there are already two ADA accessible routes to the building, Hunter said.
The money is most likely going to have to come from private donors, he said.
There are many sources for private donation that the project could pull from, Reid said.
Many current and retired faculty from the department of biological sciences have also expressed interest in giving to the project, she said.
“I know the faculty who started this department, and they’re all getting into their 70s and 80s,” Reid said. “I’m hoping I can be the tie to go after them and ask them ‘Hey, could you kick in some money on this?’”
People in the department may also be interested in donating to the project in memory of a past member of the biological sciences faculty, the late David Montgomery, Reid said.
“I was standing out here in the lobby with three other women and we said ‘Wouldn’t that be nice if we could make that into a garden for Dave?’ ” she said.
Reid said she would be willing to use her own money to help fund the project, and would make the donation as a dedication to her parents.
Reid may also call on Cal Poly alumni to make a donation to the project, she said.
“Cal Poly has a fairly well-to-do alumni base,” Reid said.
The terrace and pathway could be a good gifting opportunity for Cal Poly alumni, especially biological sciences graduates, to give back to the school, Reid said.
“If you want to raise private money, there’s going to be enough people around who will do it,” Reid said.
For now, Reid is still in the early stages of development. She feels confident that she will find a way to make the money show up for the project, she says.
“Let’s do the right thing,” Reid said. “Let’s add some quality to Fisher hall that is totally lacking, and make something beautiful.”