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Committee examines Cactus Garden's fate

By Cyndy Cole
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday Jan. 9, 2002
DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Joseph Wood Krutch Garden may be moved to a new location in order to build the proposed Alumni Plaza. Many are worried that moving the garden could hurt or destroy the Boojum tree, which has been at the university for more than 80 years.

Alumni Plaza construction to be delayed while new plans drawn up

Design consultants are redrawing plans to keep the cactus garden in its current location on the UA Mall instead of relocating it to outside of Old Main.

Plans for the Alumni Plaza landscaping in front of the Administration building sparked controversy over the relocation of the Joseph Wood Krutch garden, which would have to be moved to make room for the plaza.

Members of the Planning and Design Review Advisory Committee voted last month to delay starting construction of the Alumni Plaza from September to at least December.

The delay will allow time for a botanical study of the Joseph Wood Krutch garden, that will examine the health of the plants in the garden and their chance of survival if relocated, said Jay Rochlin, associate director of the Alumni Office.

Two of the seven committee members who attended the last meeting oppose moving the garden, and the committee will discuss the garden's future at a meeting next month.

No plans involving the garden are set in stone yet, said Mary Jones, president of Hargreaves Associates, the firm designing Alumni Plaza.

PADRAC members made suggestions to the design consultants about enlarging or reducing the size of the 3,000-square-foot garden or adding a walkway to make it more attractive.

Mark Dimmitt, director of natural history at the Southern Arizona Desert Museum, argued that moving the garden would threaten rare, sensitive plants like the three boojum trees at the garden's center. These trees are older than the UA and are native only to the Baja Peninsula.

"We could never guarantee that the boojum trees could survive transplanting but we would try," Jones said. The UA was planning to buy one boojum tree, in case one or more did not survive transplantation.

Other Krutch Garden conservationists, like UA alumnus Richard Holdridge, have argued that the garden is an integral part of the history UA should preserve in the Alumni Plaza.

"It shouldn't be up to us to prove why the Krutch garden should stay," said Libby Davison, interim director of the UA Arboretum, "It should be up to (the design consultants, Alumni Association) to make the case for why it should be moved."

Those who support moving the cactus garden to Old Main said it's a crowded traffic rotary in its current location, while it could be more expansive in a new location.

Members of the Alumni Association and the project managers had said the UA Mall would be better off without the garden, which Jones called "an eyesore, almost," during her presentation to PADRAC.

UA President Peter Likins had stated before the PADRAC meeting in an e-mail that the garden would be moved, and Jones proposed that the garden be relocated so there would be a clear view from Campbell Avenue to Old Main.

This would allow the UA Mall to be better used to seat audiences for a stage placed near where the garden now stands.

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