Bulldozers plow important East Bank green places

Marta Fahrenz

As the bulldozers were plowing up the road behind the Radisson when I was walking across the Scholars Walk  on my way to work, I thought it had something to do with the renovation of the Rec Center, and I didn’t think much about it. When I got to Cooke Hall, where I work, everyone was talking about what was going to be happening to our beautiful green space outside our building and I couldn’t believe it.
The next day, we watched the row of ash trees behind the Washington Avenue Ramp get mowed down. Then the grove of new and old flowering apple trees that graced the Scholars Walk was bulldozed, and it felt like the desecration of a sacred place.
Many of those trees were planted as young saplings a few years ago, and every year they’ve grown sturdier and more fruitful. This year they flowered early in late April, and it was a breathtaking sight. I was literally awestruck one Monday morning as I walked across Washington Avenue on my way to work, facing that sea of white blossoms and drinking in their heady fragrance. I felt so lucky to work at the University — where else could I start my day with a stroll through paradise?
I’m not sure people understand what’s happened outside Cooke Hall, the wanton destruction of a beautiful green space where students played soccer and volleyball; where people sat under the trees to eat lunch; where we hosted an outdoor graduation celebration for parents and students on a perfect spring day. It is impossible to just forgive and forget.
A portion of the Scholars Walk, a stately and dignified tribute to the University’s best and brightest, is being turned into rubble as I write this. I feel so angry and helpless. The bulldozers showed up without warning. The vast majority of people in our building and in the Rec Center had no idea that a road was going to be constructed right outside our door, in one of the most heavily traveled walkways on the East Bank and on the primary campus route to the sports arenas. And how unfortunate is it that a walkway and a bike path are being destroyed to build a road? It is beyond my comprehension.
I think my colleagues and I — and every person who occasionally walks  this area of the campus — will be grieving about this for a long time. If anyone has any doubts about the tragic effects of this decision, I invite you to walk to Cooke Hall and take a look.
Marta Fahrenz, Graduate studies coordinator, School of Kinesiology