Hurley outlines summer improvements

By: Madison Reed

Executive Producer

Tarleton State University has undergone multiple construction and renovation projects around campus. These projects are to help increase capacity, provide better overall student experience and safety as well as provide more options and variety to students on campus.

Tarleton President Dr. James Hurley said, “What’s taking place in the summer now is you see a lot of preventive maintenance, you see a lot of enhancements on campus—certainly with some of our through ways, walkways—we want to see that our windows, doors, roofs are repaired when students come back.”

The Barry B. Student Center under construction.
Photo by Madison Reed

“And the reason you’re seeing it in the summer,” Hurley continued, “is it’s the only downtime that we don’t have 10,000 students and a couple thousand faculty and staff members on campus. We have to condense all of our construction into the [summer]…What you want to do with construction projects is you want it to be the least amount of disruption for the university, for the faculty, for the staff, for the students in particular and more importantly.”

According to Assistant Vice President of Campus Operations David Martin, some of the construction and renovation projects on campus include the food court, bookstore, Fine Arts Pedestrian Way, Sloan and Rome intersection, baseball and softball fields, aquatics center, dog park, food truck court with overflow parking and smokestack.

“All these timelines,” Martin explained, “are really stressed because of COVID and deliveries and materials and supply chains and a lot of different [things]—it’s like a perfect storm came together. Common things like brick pavers have become very difficult to get, especially on short notice. Even though some of these projects we were planning for months, it’s been a challenge, but our team is working very hard to get those completed on time.”

The renovations to the food court will include a new, bigger Chick-fil-A. Because of the expansion, there will be a much larger menu and more seating and lounge areas. Martin said there will also be renovations to the floors, ceilings, finishes and entrance to the student center.

The brand new Chic-fil-A.
Photo by Madison Reed

A second project happening within the student center is updating the bookstore.

“We’re going to run the bookstore through the university,” Martin said. “It was previously contracted out. So, you’re going to see a fresh look and hopeful some better options and more variety.”

To provide more safety for students traveling on campus, the Fine Arts Pedestrian Way and the Sloan and Rome intersection have been under construction.

“It [the Fine Arts Pedestrian Way] really connects the center of campus near the library to the student center area and dining hall area,” Martin said. “Previously, it was a heavily trafficked area. Students would walk down the road through the drive through the parking lot or the handicapped spaces.”

“That’s all been relocated,” Martin continued, “There’s going to be a pedestrian way that goes down there that kinda matches our new pedestrian models. So, there will be some brick accents in it, some landscaping in it, and a good safe way to travel now—we won’t be walking in traffic.”

The Sloan and Rome vehicular intersection, which is located by Wisdom Gym and the tennis courts, is also under construction. This intersection was previously misaligned and caused a lot of confusion for students driving it.

This intersection will now be aligned, match the rest of the campus, follow proper ADA handicapped accessibility crosswalk guidelines and be safe for everyone who uses it.

Hurley said, “We want to make this campus accessible to all—and all means all…Imagine if you are chair bound and you are trying to cross that section. We have a lot of students here [who are chair-bound]—and we’re proud of that.”

“That area was just a really bad area,” Hurley continued. “It was unsafe for anyone. It was unsafe for runners, it was unsafe for walkers, it was unsafe for chair-bound stakeholders [and students], and we wanted to make it safe for commuters and other folks.”

In addition to making the intersection safe for everyone,“We’re also going to put a brick medallion in that to match Rome Street down through there,” Martin added. “That’ll be a nice project as well. There’s some landscaping to soften up that whole area.”

Martin also said this project is scheduled to be done just before school starts, but it may not be done before move-in. “We hope that everyone will be patient and understand that these are all positives and progress and with progress comes pains.”

The baseball and softball fields are also under construction and being renovated this summer in order to meet Division 1 standards. The fields are being re-turfed to provide better drainage for the fields when it rains, new fences are also being put up, and new lighting for the fields are being put up in order to meet televised broadcast level standards.

“With the turf fields,” Martin said, “you can virtually play in the rain minus a downpour or lightning. Just the ability to do what we couldn’t before with the lighting upgrades will be big. And really cleaning up that side of campus as well.”

According to Hurley, the money to renovate the baseball and softball fields—as well as any other athletic facility—does not come from students’ tuition, but from the athletic budget, money raised from the ticket sales and philanthropic donations.

The aquatics center, which is located next to the Recreation Center, will hopefully be finished a month or so after school starts. It will have indoor and outdoor swimming pools, classrooms and more.

“The outdoor pool will have a sun deck,” Martin stated. “So, there will be lounge chairs half in the water..it’ll be nice. Then the indoor pool actually meets NCAA regulations for a competitive pool if we ever decide to go that route until then it’s student use.”

Finishing the aquatics center is a top priority for Tarleton.

Hurley said, “It is something that was agreed upon before my arrival and I wanted to make good on the promise. So that’s a really neat opportunity, I think it’s going to be more beneficial for the community as well—to try to tie in Tarleton and the community.”

Another construction project that happened this summer was the dog park, which was finished earlier this summer and will be a place for the dogs on campus to run and play off-leash. It will be located behind the dining hall and is already open for students and their dogs to enjoy.

The park is a large fenced-in area with an obstacle course—with a tunnel and a hoop—and water for the dogs and some picnic tables and seating for the students. It is the only place on campus where dogs are allowed to be off-leash.

Hurley said, “I’m really excited about the new dog park because we have needed that…We talked about it a lot—how can we create more spaces on campus for students to meet and congregate and just enjoy life outside of the library, outside of the learning lab, outside of the classroom, outside of wherever.”

The food truck court, which takes Texan Bucks, and the new overflow parking lot are located behind Dairy Queen, are already completed. The setup has electricity, sewer, water and LED lighting available for food trucks to park at and there are already several trailers ready to serve students.

The smokestack, a campus icon was also renovated. It was inspected by a certified group for structural integrity, a few repairs were made before it was scraped and repainted.

“It’ll appear brighter now at night because of the fresh coat of paint,” Martin said. “The stack itself was painted white; it had actually almost worn all the way off, so it was almost just a concrete structure again. Now it appears much brighter with those same [purple] lights on it.”

Ultimately, Tarleton is dedicated to maintaining its campus and providing its students, faculty, staff and visitors with a safe and beautiful atmosphere.

For more information on the improvements you can check out Tarleton’s social media platforms, the Tarleton website, or Assistant to AVP for Campus Operations Lexie Bright at bright@tarleton.edu.

“For students and faculty and staff and myself,” Hurley concluded, “I would say let’s all continue to be patient and understand that we’re still dealing with a COVID-19 construction environment where it’s very difficult for us to ascertain goods, labor and all those things in a timely fashion and just know that this is part of the master plan—this is not the president’s prerogative or David Martin’s decision—this has been in the works for many, many years. We’re just developing a plan. It’s really for the solvency and beautification of the campus, period. That’s what we care about—leaving it better than when we found it…With every challenge comes an opportunity, and we have to figure it out.”

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