Million-dollar park for students finished
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 21:09
The Collins Park on LeRoy Collins Boulevard, outside the USF Library, was completed this week.
But the wooden swings and sunny days at the park came with a hefty sticker price
— about $1 million.
Karla Willman, director of communications for Facilities and Management, said while she could not speak in detail of the sources of funding for the park, it came from “cash that USF accumulates through investment and then they set aside a certain amount for campus improvements.”
The money for the park went toward putting infrastructure in the foundation, landscaping, applying cement for sidewalks and bringing in benches and tables.
Willman said she could not provide a breakdown of the costs, but the costs incurred included costs of preparing the ground for installing W-Fi, electric costs, moving wires and infrastructure.
For the first month and a half of construction, which began in late May, the builders concentrated only on the park’s foundation and infrastructure — something that could have disrupted the existing piping and infrastructure that exists around the Library.
“We very carefully positioned the permanent structures in a way that wouldn’t affect the infrastructure underground,” Tony Lourenco, the project manager in Facilities Planning and Construction who oversaw all the operations, said. “In this area, there are hot water pipes six feet underneath chill water pipes and communication lines.”
But the piping and electric conduits for the park weren’t the only costs incurred. The water for the fountain doesn’t come from an ordinary source.
“We capture the water from the rain on the side of the Library roof,” Lourenco said. “Also, we have the condensation from the (heating ventilation air conditioning) system on the roof. That water is captured and sent down to a system … that stores the water and feeds those fountains.”
The park also has a large sail-like structure over a newly cemented area where students can study, eat or relax on plastic gray tables and benches. Around the central plaza is an assortment of flowers, palms and other trees.
The West Pond Pavilion, built near the Interdisciplinary Sciences Building and the Marshall Student Center, is similar to the park, but not as big or elaborate in scale. The pavilion cost $100,000, and it also features a sail-like awning over a few green chairs and new plants overlooking the west pond.
Willman said the initial idea for the parks came from USF students, faculty and alumni who attend yearly presentations on new building projects at USF.
“Over the years, we conducted lots of surveys about the campus itself because we’re becoming more of a residential campus,” she said. “Some of the things they keep talking about … is more spaces, more places outside on campus where they can gather with their friends, study between classes, have access to Wi-Fi, etc.”
Bill Garrison, USF dean of libraries, said during the fall and spring semesters, anywhere from 15,000 to 18,000 students pass through the USF Library. The heavy volume of students in that area of campus was one of the reasons the park was built in that location.
Ryan Dwyer, a freshman majoring in education, said he thinks the parks were worth the investment.
“There’s nice open space so you can gather in groups,” he said. “You can sit on the ground. You can have group learning sessions. It’s gorgeous.”
But not all students were as enthused about the costs of the park.
“With tuition as it is, we might as well. I guess I’ll enjoy it more,” said Alexis Roberts, a sophomore majoring in mass communications.