The MLK fountain just outside the Phyllis P. Marshall Center is now a thing of the past. The reconstruction plan involves repairing the Plaza where the fountain was, but not replacing the actual fountain.
According to Greg Gard, a coordinator of the physical plant, the problem was discovered earlier this summer by a Physical Plant employee when a light sank into the ground before her eyes.
“One of our ground supervisors was up there one day and tapped on one of the embedded lights with her foot, and the light disappeared,” Gard said.
They then discovered that all of the dirt underneath the fountain had been washed away, leaving the cement patio with nothing beneath it except for what Gard described as “one great big old empty void.” The Physical Plant then had to saw out the cement over the hole and fence off the area.
Since then, the fountain area, including the patio where many events are usually held, has been closed off for construction.
The MLK fountain project is costing a total of about $36,000, according to Gard. That money is coming from the Physical Plant maintenance and repair budget, which is the same place that money comes from for odd jobs around campus , such as repainting and air conditioning repair.
“It’s going to be replaced with just a patio, not the fountain,” said Gard. “The fountain was off all the time for student activities anyway.” He added that the project would have cost about $97,000 if a new fountain were to be put in.
The patio area by the fountain usually hosts several activities sponsored by student organizations, but since that area is a fenced-off construction zone now, they have had to find new locations for the whole semester.
According to Greg Jackson, the Marshall Center Coordinator of Event and Meeting Services, events that would normally be held in the fountain area have been held in rooms in the MC, lawns around campus or they have been postponed. Jackson said that even though the construction is supposed to be completed soon, he has not begun booking events for that area.
Construction has moved slowly due to the position of the construction in the heart of campus.
“It’s cornered by probably some of the highest traffic areas on campus,” said Ben Marshall, the project manager of Crossroads Construction Company, which is the company performing the construction. “For safety issues we had to do a lot of the work on weekends and after hours and that sort of thing.”
The hole has been filled in with dirt now, but the dirt-filled hole is yet to be covered with cement.
Gard said he hopes the project will be done in time for Homecoming next week, though that does not look very likely.
Marshall has a less optimistic timeline.
“There’s a lot of work yet to be done,” Marshall said. He said they would be forming and pouring the concrete over the next couple of weeks, and there would still be work to be done after the cement is poured.
He also said that the chances of the construction being done by Homecoming were “pretty slim.”
According to Marshall, the CCC have worked on many projects all over campus in the past. In fact, he said they are also working on renovations in Faculty Office Building.