Rocks, irrigation improve grounds
Students who cringed to see what looked like a new construction project around Old Main can be relieved that it will be completed Jan. 30.
UA Facilities Management is enhancing the appearance of Old Main by adding landscape rock and computerized irrigation.
"The folks in Ground Services are trying to improve the image of the campus by taking Old Main, where we respect the historical view, and enhancing its appearance with landscape decoration," said Kris Kopach, associate director for Facilities Management. "Old Main is a centerpiece of the UA, the jewel of campus."
Physical changes include applying three-eighths of an inch of landscape rock to dirt patches that have been worn over the years, placing larger rocks to prevent soil erosion and adding an arboretum bench. The berm, or compacted soil that looks like a hump in the grass, is being rebuilt after years of deterioration.
Facilities Management is putting in landscape rock for several reasons.
During intense rainstorms, the rocks will slow water flowing on the surface of the ground, minimizing soil erosion.
"It will also help with dust control," said Deryl Smith, assistant director for Landscape Management.
Beneath the surface, an irrigation system is being installed to supply water to all the plants around Old Main. This is part of a wider university plan to install computerized irrigation across campus to reduce the amount of hand watering now required by grounds services staff.
"This helps landscape around Old Main keep looking green on a consistent basis," Kopach said.
The berms, which will wrap around the grass near the UA Memorial Fountain, are historical irrigation berms. The berms were once used to trap water during flood irrigation, a method now considered wasteful in a desert environment.
The berms will also prevent water from running into the street after the fountain is drained and cleaned.
"It looks nice so far," said Scott Dunaway, a history sophomore, "but they could use the money for better things."
The landscape renovations will not affect the structure of Old Main. The project is set for completion Jan. 30. Facilities Management funded the project.