By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
It’s been more than a year since UMass Dartmouth has been free of the metal fences and piles of dirt that the construction crews brought to the middle of campus, but it looks like it’s finally time to test out the new layout of the main quad.
The UMassDTransform 2020 plan, as dubbed by the surrounding signs, is a project that started in the summer of 2016 to redesign and refurbish the center of campus. The reason behind the project was twofold. Firstly, the middle of campus wasn’t great, especially with the loose rock path that led from the campus center that everyone avoided.
The other was that work needed to be done on the pipes that ran underground, and UMass Dartmouth decided that if the ground was going to be torn up, they might as well do some work to beautify the campus layout as well.
Not a lot of progress was made throughout the 2016-17 school year, and many joked that it would actually take until 2020 to be finished. All last year, the construction remained an eyesore and an obstacle students had to walk around.
However, when the 2017-2018 school year began, the construction project was nearly complete, and as soon as the metal fencing is lifted, students will once again be able to cut across the grass to get to class in an optimal time.
The final product features new paths and green grass, but the main attraction is the set of steps in front of the campus center. They feature lighting under each level of concrete, and are more aesthetically pleasing than the multicolored mural that hangs right above it.
Overall, I think the new layout looks pretty good. The stairs look great at night when you can see the strips of light from far away. The paths and steps also look like they should help traffic flow, especially once they lift the fences and the grass is open.
Was the project worth the time and money spent on it? That’s a different discussion.
I know it’s cliché and often just misdirected frustration to say a construction crew took too long, but it did take over a year to lay new concrete, a task that didn’t even really need to happen. ggAdditionally, the pipes were only exposed for the first few months, which means that the bulk of the project was the paths and steps, not re-laying important pipelines.
Granted, I don’t know the timelines and difficulties of construction work, but there’s another frame of reference we can use. The Charlton College of Business didn’t exist two years ago; it was entirely completed from scratch in under 9 months, and was open for use at the beginning of the 2016 academic year.
Rearranging some paths and steps took longer than building the CCB, and I’m confused as to why.
The other issue with the project is the money the school has spent on it. I may not have access to UMass Dartmouth’s invoices, but we all know that a year of contracting construction crews to dig through campus isn’t cheap.
The money dedicated to UMassDTransform2020 could have been directed to countless better endeavors, including air conditioning in the Liberal Arts building, more buses traveling to and from the STAR store, and financial aid for those who need it.
The very outlet I’m using to talk to you, The Torch newspaper, is under a very constricted budget, and even a small portion of the money used on the construction would be a gigantic help.
Does the renovation look bad? Not at all, but in the end, the school would have been better off only hiring the crew for a quick fix to the pipes while saving the time and money for better things.