Hansen residents upset over loss of green space

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

A move to alleviate parking congestion on the west side of campus has some Hansen Hall residents upset over the loss of their green space.

Work to construct a 200-space parking lot north of Hansen Hall began last week. This new lot removed the volleyball courts and grass recreational spaces that were used for Oozeball and many pick-up games of football.

“The fact is all our recreational area is gone now,” said Jarett Stork, a Hansen resident and junior animal science major.

Another Hansen resident Dan Windschill said residents had played football continuously on that green space during the first days of school. On Labor Day, Windschill spent time on Facebook in the Hansen Hall lobby since he could no longer play football near Hansen.

“If we want to get a space anywhere big enough, we’ll have to go all the way across campus,” Windschill, a sophomore nursing major, said.

Administrators decided to put in the new lot after projecting that a combination of construction, growing enrollment and an increase in the number of students bringing cars to school would make it hard to find a spot on the west side.

“The area needs it,” said Mike Reger, vice president for administration. “Parking is tight on that side all the time.”

Since deciding in mid-summer that the area needed more parking, the university has moved quickly to get the lot ready. The area was graded last week, and if the weather cooperates, the lot will have a hard surface before winter. Otherwise, the lot will be gravel, said Dean Kattelmann, assistant vice president for facilities and services.

Until the new lot is completed in a couple of weeks, residents are sharing the commuter lot northeast of Hansen. Once work is done, the northeast lot will be solely for commuters, and the new lot will be used by residents of the Waneta Annex and Hansen, Berg and Bailey Halls.

“As a university as we continue to grow, we will need additional parking,” said Doug Wermedal, assistant vice president for student affairs. “This lot moved faster than anticipated.”

The tight scheduling did prevent some Hansen residents from being able to voice their opinions about the new lot. These residents said that short of providing Hansen with some indoor recreation options, such as a pool table or better televisions, the situation will not be solved easily.

“It’s too late, and we didn’t get a say,” Stork said. “I don’t know what they could do. We can’t get the grass back.”

Wermedal said he understands the students’ concerns because the student affairs office tries to involve students in major projects on campus, such as with the new residence hall and The Union expansion. This time, though, the turnaround was too tight to involve students, he said.

“We absolutely wanted consent from students if time had permitted, but we had to move quickly to fix the problem,” he said.

To make up for some of the lost green space, the ditch area just north of Hansen’s back door will be leveled to make that space usable, Wermedal said. The area past the road north of the new lot will be leveled and reconfigured to create green space and accommodate Oozeball.

Some of those new areas could also include equipment for roping or a Frisbee golf course, but Wermedal said that green-space decision will be left up to the students.

“They will have a chance to influence that in a way that few halls have had,” he said.

For now, though, the students in Hansen feel that they’ve lost an important part of their residence hall experience.

“One of the aspects of Hansen is gone,” Stork said.

#1.881552:1884803592.jpg:DSC_0876.1.jpg:A portion of green space next to Hansen Hall will be converted into parking for an increasing number of students.:Ethan Swanson