Puryear, Law slain in vain
University making poor use of newly freed space
Surely you've noticed the vast empty space where Puryear and Law Halls used to stand. Now the property is kind of serene, kind of muddy, and kind of useless.
As you may recall, a strange building-rubble hybrid filled the lot for several months last semester. The pile did little to improve the campus skyline, but it allowed us to slowly come to terms with the fact Puryear and Law would no longer be with us.
With removal of the halls finally complete, university officials have recently discussed replacing the buildings. The current plans, however, do not make much sense.
Although there is a high demand for parking space, classrooms and housing on the main campus, university officials plan to create a "green area" where the popular residence halls once stood. This sounds nice, but Northside already has several park-like "green areas." This site is just a brick's throw from Keathley Beach (the open space between FHK-Complex and Wellborn Road) and lies adjacent to the O.R. Simpson Drill Field.
Dr. Ray Bowen, A&M President, supports the "green area" plan. He said he likes the idea of "opening up campus," and adds he enjoys looking out his window to plenty of green space.
While the University President improves the view from his office, however, west campus continues to expand and students face longer and longer commutes between classes.
Students feel concern for the safety of those they care about as they trek to and from Fish Lot late at night.
On more than one occasion, I have been unable to find red-tag parking anywhere. Maybe there is a hidden lot I do not know about, but until I find it, IÊam forced to either circle parking lots like a vulture or find some way to entertain myself off-campus.
President Bowen offers little hope to those who would like to see something useful constructed on the site. The location, however, is one of several being considered for a new hall within the next ten years.
In the meantime, the Residence Hall Association is gathering student support to build a memorial to Puryear and Law Halls in the green area. The memorial, which could be built as early as this June, will include two stone arches and a $52,000 price tag.
In addition to the expensive memorial, RHA is also considering adding barbecue pits or volleyball courts to encourage students to use the park.
The proposed memorial is small, so it probably will not have to be removed in the event of future construction. This is fortunate -- considering how long it took to get rid of Puryear and Law, demolishing and removing a couple of stone arches could take months.
The proposed memorial looks good on paper, but this does not mean the "green area" will ever be used. The memorial would certainly be attractive, but Cain Park is attractive, and always empty.
Most students agree our oldest residence halls deserve some sort of visible memory, but $52,000 is a lot of money to pull from any university source. This sort of project should be a class gift, not university funded. It seems university planners have a propensity for throwing money around on small projects while complaining they cannot free up funds.
The Puryear site is valuable land. As main campus becomes more crowded, west campus continues to grow. Besides the inconvenience of commuting long distances between classes, we have already seen many tragic accidents involving students crossing Wellborn Road. As the university's westward expansion continues, officials propose expensive pedestrian walks or tunnels to prevent further injuries. This effort seems misspent when officials are landscaping "green areas" on the main campus.
Space is already at a high premium on campus. Many on-campus students walk over twenty minutes from their hall to their car. Most off-campus students brave fierce crowds at bus stops, or drive to campus hours before their classes begin in hopes of finding an open parking space. With the increasing demand for space, and escalating safety concerns, can we afford to sacrifice prime property on the main campus for another "green area?"