The first phase of the Master Plan began Monday morning with the start of construction on four new South Campus residence halls, leaving fallen trees, mounds of dirt and concerned students in its wake.
Backhoes and chain saws cleared out the vegetation in front of Ehringhaus and Craige residence halls, while asphalt and fences covered the area surrounding Hinton James and Morrison residence halls.
The new halls will be adjacent to the current halls on campus, and each will be a maximum of four stories high.
They are being built as part of the campus Master Plan, a blueprint for future campus growth.
UNC officials said the work is preparation for the construction crews to break ground. "What (construction crews) are doing now is putting up fences, cutting down trees and doing foundation work," said Rebecca Casey, assistant director for the housing department.
Casey said that although students voiced concerns on the project when it was first presented, there has been no student criticism since construction began. "I haven't heard of any student concerns, and all student complaints go through me," she said.
But some students evidently hadn't taken their complaints off South Campus yet. "The construction is too much of an inconvenience," said Dana Haynes, a freshman and Craige resident from Kinston. "We're going to be trying to study and trying to sleep," she said over the rattle of a jackhammer.
Haynes also said the beauty of campus is negatively affected by the construction. "A lot of people who have come to visit me say the campus looks ugly with all the construction," she said.
Glenn Hollar, a freshman and Morrison resident from Asheville, said even though there is no construction noise outside Morrison yet, the foundation work is still discomforting.
"I think (the construction) is going to be a nuisance," he said. "So far I've had the smell of asphalt in my room."
But other students didn't mind the disruption.
"The work hasn't really bothered me," said Libby Welch, a freshman from Massachusetts, as she walked past chain saws clearing away trees. "I live on the other side of (Ehringhaus), so the construction hasn't really been a problem."
Andy Medlin, a freshman from Laurinburg, said noise has also not been a problem for him at Hinton James. "I heard it, but the noise really didn't wake me up," he said.
Casey said officials did not know how long each phase of construction would take, but that a timetable for the project will be released within the month.
The length of time needed for the construction of the new residence halls worries some students, who said they want the chance to live in the new structures.
"I'm never going to live in the new dorms," Hollar said. "I'll be out in an apartment by then, but I have to deal with the construction for two years."
But several students said they think the benefits of construction outweigh the detractions. "I think it will be well worth it," Welch said. "The new dorms are supposed to be really nice."
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