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New fences block campus shortcuts

By SAM STRYKER | Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Newly-erected black posts and fencing that now stand between the sidewalks along several campus pathways have led many Notre Dame students to question their purpose.

James Lyphout, vice president of business operations, said the reason for the installation of the posts is aesthetic.

“Individual decorative posts have been placed in a few select areas to help protect landscaped or lawn areas that have chronically been difficult to maintain due to excessive vehicular traffic,” he said.  “The posts are intended to guide vehicles that use sidewalks, from service trucks to golf carts, away from these areas.”

Lyphout also said that the University held meetings over the summer with vendors and campus staff to request that they refrain from driving on sidewalks for aesthetic and safety purposes.

“This effort was intended to increase pedestrian safety as well as to minimize the reoccurring damage to the campus landscape,” he said.

Despite the sudden appearance of the posts and fencing, students should soon expect a better appearance around these new elements.

“Sections of fence will soon be landscaped with new plantings that will soften the appearance of the new fences while blending them into the landscape,” Lyphout said.

Sophomore Anthony Cossell believes that as they are now, the poles and fences are an eyesore on campus.

“I think they are pretty ridiculous-looking to be placed everywhere,” he said.

Senior Anna Katter agreed.

“It makes the campus less inviting,” she said. “They seem silly, like an arbitrary way to spend money.”

Junior Melissa Guinan said she understands the purpose behind the posts and fencing, but that does not necessarily mean it was a correct decision to place them around campus.

“I try to ride my bike on the grass when it is busy so that I don’t hit people or have to swerve,” she said. “We’ll find other shortcuts. Students aren’t dumb.”

Sophomore Charlie O’Leary said that a few simple additions could improve the sightlines around the poles drastically.

“Even if they put some plants or flowers around the poles, that would help them seem less out of place. A little effort would go a long way,” he said.

Though he views the poles around campus as looking out of place, Cossell said one other simple change could drastically improve their appearance.

“If they made the poles look more like the fences to keep people off the grass, I could understand that, but without being connected they look awkward,” he said.

O’Leary said he believes students will soon grow used to the new addition of the black poles.

“I understand why they are here,” he said. “It’s just going to take a little time for students to get used to them.”