Mall still in progress


Through all the dust and constant construction, UW-Eau Claire is starting to see a turn of events as more trees and grass are being added to the campus, but the construction isn’t over yet.

“I think we are going to see a replay of what happened in the other mall, unless the weather really cooperates and we have a lot of good luck,” Director of Facilities Management Terry Classen said.

If luck is not on their side, construction will continue into the spring. Although if things go according to plan, it could be done by the end of this fall semester. Students will be seeing many additions to the campus mall including sidewalks, lights and the moving of the bronzed sculpture, the Sprites — but they won’t see the clock.

“It has to do with the scale of things,” Classen said. “The new mall has enough of a circle in it, that the clock would be dwarfed.”

Classen said students and faculty at the university have been reasonably receptive to the new additions and construction.

“We anticipated that if we didn’t get the sidewalk opened that leads to the mall, we would have gotten a lot of gripes,” Classen said.

Associate German Professor, Josh Brown is not too disappointed with the tree removal.

“It’s less aesthetically pleasing,” Brown said. “But I guess we’re getting more green space with the amphitheater.”

Brown said the most exciting aspect of this construction is the new education building because the foreign languages department will be moving from Hibbard Hall to Centennial Hall.

“It will be fun to get more light in our offices, to be in a newer building and to also get out more a little bit because we are always in Hibbard,” Brown said. “It will be nice to walk around and to see students outside and enjoying the sun or the winter.”

While others sympathize with the construction, some are not too sure about it taking so long to be completed.

“I wish they would just get it done and push that gate back, it’s congested,” Eau Claire junior Rachael Lionberger said.

One of her biggest struggles with the construction was last year when she injured her leg and had to walk around on crutches. She found it difficult to get around so many other students in such a small area.

“It was stressful because I had a huge boot on my foot,” she said. “I was slowing everyone up and I felt bad.”

Some may want construction to end sooner than later but Classen said they are doing all they can to accommodate students and professors.

“We are not going to be able to do better than what you see out there right now and I realize it’s not perfect, “Classen said. “I wish it were wider, but I just can’t improve on it.”

The renovations are meant to improve campus’ appearance and provide more opportunities to host events, Classen said.

“We didn’t plant a ton of trees, but we could plant more depending on how we see people using the places,” Classen said. “For example, we probably wouldn’t do that in the amphitheater area because it would block sight lines.”

Lionberger said she’s already seeing a difference in the aesthetic value of the campus mall.

“I definitely like it,” she said. “I wish (trees) were bigger. That will take some years, but I like the grass because it makes it a lot more attractive to look at when you walk to class.”

Along with the other additions to campus, Classen said, gates blocking off the parking lot in back of Schneider will be opened allowing students to walk across by the end of October.