Blaise Pascal, PenseĆ© 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"A Surprise to Some"

Yesterday in his email to the campus, President Welty noted that the removal of 150 trees in the A, J, and UBC parking lots came "as a surprise to some," but that the remodel of the parking lots was "vetted with a number of campus constituencies over the course of months of planning." 

Deja vue, over and over again. 

We got a little more information from Cindy Matson in a longer accompanying statement: "Discussions of Lots A and J and the proposed financing were held with the President’s Student Lunch Group, Campus Planning Committee, Student Fee Advisory Committee and the Academic Senate’s Facilities and Campus Environment Liaison Committee."

The Fresno Bee interviewed Fresno State Parking Administrator Amy Armstrong, who spoke for the administration:

Armstrong said faculty members on two committees -- campus planning and the facilities and campus environment liaison committee -- were consulted about the redesign for parking lots A and J. Those lots were chosen because they had a lot of potholes and were in bad condition, she said.

There will not be solar panels over parking stalls, such as in the lot just to the south, she said. The redesign will increase the number of parking spaces from 1,357 to 1,957.

The $4 million project, funded through student parking fees, is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 15, which is in time for the start of the fall semester, the university said.

The committee members were told the trees had to go and ponding basins had to be filled in to maximize the space and create the most parking, Armstrong said. The planning process started early in the spring semester, and there were no objections, she said.

Yet, I have not been able to find any faculty member who had any idea that wholesale destruction of trees east of Peters was going to take place. It was news to John Bushoven, who is in the Arboretum Committee and to John Constable, who was on FACEL.

Well, there's the President's Student Lunch group: no doubt they were fully informed.

I am guessing that what happened was this: a remodel / repair of lots A, J, and UBC was announced with almost no detail except the promise of more parking. The potholes would be filled in, the ponding basins filled in. A short announcement to FACEL and on to other business. Anyone in the administration can correct me if this guess is wrong. President Welty: You say "some were surprised." Just please, give us the name of one faculty member, one student, who isn't surprised.

How many parking spots could have been added to those lots without the loss of trees, just by filling in the ponding basins? Why couldn't the rest of the parking have been found elsewhere, getting the campus 600 more spaces? Was FACEL ever shown a detailed plan of what the new lot was going to look like? Who announced to FACEL that the lot would be redesigned and what exactly did they say?
Your message notes that "there was insufficient discussion" about the parking lot remodel. It registers no regret about the destruction of the the trees and neither does Cindy Matson's. And Amy Armstrong's message to the press about the relocation of trees turns out to apply to just a few crepe myrtles. 
"A surprise to some." Yes indeed. But the saddest thing is that so much of this--the lack of real consultation, the assertion that there was consultation (with many committees, over months), the bare bureaucratic announcement that there may have been problems with the process, comes as no surprise at all. 

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