They’re tearing it up at Sul Ross, and many in the community are wondering what’s going on.
Mike Pacheco, chief of staff to university President Pete Gallego, explained the demolition underway near the Wildenthal Library and the Briscoe Administration Building was simply moving forward with Phases II and III of the Campus Access Project as set forth in the 2011 Master Plan.
At the time the plan was finalized, a committee of faculty and staff wanted to create what Pacheco called “a larger front yard for the university.”
Phase I of the project included adding student gathering places between Lobo Village and the Warnock Science Building, an outdoor classroom/amphitheater, seating areas to enhance the living and learning environment, and more.
Phases II and III are now underway as well, and Pacheco said, “It’s basically a significant landscaping project.”
With xeriscape as a goal, rocks, cactus, and native plants will be added. Pacheco said some existing trees will come down, but over 200 trees will be planted throughout the campus where changes were being made.
The circle now near the library and administration building will be moved closer to Harrison Street, and landscaping will be installed to create a larger front yard.
”That’s as opposed to being pushed up so close to the buildings,” said Pacheco.
Pacheco said the plan was approved several years ago, and there was no opposition at the time.
“President Gallego had paused the process, and was reviewing a couple of things that were brought to our attention. We brought in an additional arborist to review the plans,” he said.
Phase III includes landscape frontage and a jogging trail. According to plan details, new landscaping will reduce water use and maintenance resources, removing irrigated Bermuda grass, and replacing it with native grass and desert shrubs. Where water flows most heavily off the parking lot, stone terraces will be constructed to slow and disperse storm water.
This phase also includes a campus perimeter exercise trail, allowing students and residents to exercise while interacting with the new landscape zones. the trail will extend around the entire campus perimeter, sharing space with multi-use sidewalks where there isn’t sufficient space for a dedicated exercise trail.
Said Pacheco, “Phase I was the amphitheater, and Phases II and III were split between the ends of the campus. The goal is for all of this to get done at about the same time.”