By Jennifer Johnson & Madison Friend
Late Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday, commuter students approaching the Sullivan Academic Center from Chandler Street were surprised to find their endearing cut-through dirt path gone, replaced by a concrete walkway.
The footpath was the product of years of students hurrying to class and had become a notable fixture on WSU’s campus.
Senior Yekason Lawrence Yeans is one of many happy to see the improvement.
“I use [the walking path] a lot, and it sucks come winter time because there’s always a lot of snow. So now you’ll be able to go through without getting soaked,” Yeans said.
According to the President’s office, this plan has been in place for quite some time. Renae Lias Claffey, Assistant to the President for Campus Communications, explained the official reasoning for this seemingly impromptu facelift:
“Since the Chandler Street parking lot became ours, the footpath on the lawn in front of Sullivan Building has been well traveled. Such a natural pathway can be hazardous for footing, and yet next to impossible to eliminate. In the winter, the dirt path was especially dangerous as pedestrians continued to use it, and we could not shovel it. In recognition of the foot traffic and to improve safety, as well as to beautify the area, WSU’s Facilities is creating the new walkway, which is currently under construction.”
As with any paved surface installed at the university, the pathway complies with ADA (Americans of Disabilities Act) standards, meaning that it is handicap-accessible. Handicap-accessible paths must include a flat concrete entryway and an incline grade of less than eight percent. The dirt footpath was previously inaccessible to handicapped students.
According to employees from Bell’s Lawn & Garden of Auburn, the company responsible for the pathway installation, these regulations dictated the way the path was paved. The shape of the concrete path was altered from the previously-tread footpath in order to connect with pre-existing ADA-compliant walkways, a measure that mitigated the need for expensive, time-consuming curb-cutting and concrete installation measures.
Thanks to their handywork, all WSU students are now able to safely and easily access the front entrance of the Sullivan Academic Center from Chandler Street.
Although declining to comment on the actual cost of the pathway, Lias Claffey went on to write:
“All capital improvements require planning ahead and setting funds aside. As our Facilities area moves past the phase of constructing new buildings, they will be making other types of improvements. Maintaining a campus, like maintaining a home, is necessary to ensure safety and also to present a ‘curb appeal’ for your property – and for us, that curb appeal needs to attract new students each year. At Worcester State, we make such improvements for those reasons, and also so that current students can enjoy studying and socializing in a pleasing, safe environment.”
The pathway will be finished by Tuesday, Sept. 27 in time for a planned aerial shoot of the campus.