Safety the focus of College Park construction

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Asphalt and concrete pile up as construction on the lot progresses. Photo by Robert Huskey / Daily Titan

Jackhammers shattered aged asphalt as ground was broken late last week as part of a project to convert the parking lot on the northwest side of College Park into a patio and walkway, which will flow directly into the College Park lobby.

At the heart of the renovation is a diagonal corridor that will be lined with benches, tables and palm trees. A cul-de-sac will also be added to redirect vehicle traffic moving west through the lot. The new elements will replace several dozen parking spaces in front of the building.

Construction is scheduled to be completed by Jan. 21.

The project had been in planning for some time, according to Jim Alexander, director of property development for Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC) of Cal State Fullerton, which is funding the construction.

Alexander described the project as an investment in pedestrian safety, convenience and aesthetics, and said it is College Park’s first offering to the CollegeTown redevelopment plan, which has not yet been finalized by the city of Fullerton.

“We’ve been talking about it for a while, but we needed all the consensus from the Chancellor’s Office and all this kind of stuff, so it’s taken a while for us to get to this,” said Alexander.

Alexander said construction was scheduled to begin in early November so that it would be completed before students and faculty returned for the spring semester in January.

“We’re trying to do this all so that when everybody comes back (next semester)… it’s all done,” he said. “We wanted to start now and inconvenience folks for only a couple of weeks rather than the whole spring.”

Although a message was posted on the student Portal Nov. 2 to inform students that construction would begin Nov. 5, Alexander said ASC did not directly alert students or faculty.

Some faculty have complained that the loud noises from the construction site have disrupted the calm of their classrooms.

Robert Quezada, a communications lecturer, said he received a memo stating that the demolition stage of construction had finished, but still asked if the project’s timing was appropriate.

“We did lose a lot of parking spaces in a lot that already does not have enough,” he said. “Many of us wonder why this could not be done during intersession or the summer.”

Alexander said a bulk of the work will be completed during winter break while fewer people will be on campus. In order to finish by the January deadline, however, construction had to start in early November.

“We’re doing our best to not inconvenience the students as much as possible,” Alexander said.

To help accommodate faculty, Alexander said, several 30-minute parking spaces on the south side of the building have been converted into faculty parking.

Another phase in the project is being planned to address aesthetics in the northeast section of the lot.

“You can’t mix students and traffic,” Alexander said. “This is what we’ve chosen to do, as well as making (College Park) more inviting… I think when we’re all done in the middle of January, people are going to say, ‘Wow.’”

David Hood contributed to this report.

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