The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday January 20th

Construction Fence Frustrates Students

A large fence running parallel to the back of Lenoir Dining Hall and Greenlaw Hall is the product of renovations to Murphey Hall.

The construction is slated to end in October 2002, with the fence in place during the project's entirety, said construction Manager Dana Leeson.

According to the Facilities Planning and Construction Web site, the renovation is part of the $510 million fund for construction established by the $3.1 billion higher education bond passed last November. Nearly half this money will be spent to renovate existing facilities such as Murphey Hall.

The project includes improvements such as enhanced building safety and security, new ceilings and lighting, new electrical and telecommunication resources and central air, the Web site states.

But most students do not know about the plans to create a better Murphey Hall, only the construction's effect on pedestrians. The new construction has eliminated shortcuts and created narrower footpaths.

"It's annoying," said Michelle Bercovici, a sophomore art history and English major. "It causes traffic jams and impedes movement."

Sophomore Jonathan Saks said he is disappointed by the lack of communication that left students surprised.

"There was no campus discussion, no student input that I know of," he said. "This is something I want and expect to hear about before it occurs."

Karen Geer, the administrative officer for facilities planning, said signs will be posted to direct students away from the construction.

Geer said all classes were moved from Murphey to Howell Hall last summer so students wouldn't have to relocate in the middle of this semester.

"We hope that everyone understands we're not out trying to make the students' lives miserable," she said. "We're just trying to do our jobs and trying to give them facilities that are as up-to-date as possible."

She said the fence, although needed for vehicle and equipment access, is essential for student, faculty and visitor safety. "There's no real way I'm aware of not to put the fence up," Geer said.

"We have to look at safety concerns more than convenience concerns."

But Leeson said a great deal of study went into finding an access road that would be the least problematic for pedestrians. "The most ideal construction site would be adjacent to Davis Drive," he said. "We instead chose a site which appeared to be the safest and blocked the least distance of sidewalk."

Leeson said the University limits construction activity during key events and testing periods. These include exam weeks in December and April, graduation, University Day and home football games.

He also said he does not see this specific project as a major noise disturbance. "The majority of the Murphey construction will be on the interior of the building, largely limiting noise to the demolition period and excavation of the building's basement," Leeson said.

Jamila Vernon, a senior journalism and political science major, said she feels the construction detracts from the appeal of UNC.

"People come to this school not only for the academics but the aesthetics of the campus," she said.

"When I used to look around campus, it was beautiful. Now, it's just a mess."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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