North Haven campus petitions to Save the Walkway

Katherine Rojas

The North Haven Campus hosts the School of Medicine, health sciences, School of Education and soon the School of Law. The health sciences on this campus closely work with handicapped residents in its pro-bono clinic, VISION. As these clients arrive, they may park in the parking garage and enter Building 1 through the second floor link walkway, shielding them from any bad weather. But after commencement this summer, this link will be demolished.

[media-credit name=”Madeline Hardy” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]“We haven’t officially started this yet, but we are beginning to prepare for demolition in the building and putting in some blockade, Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning Salvatore Filardi said.

The walkway was originally used by Anthem–Blue Cross Blue Shield, before it vacated the building, and when the parking garage was for Anthem employees only up until October, according to Filardi.

The parking garage opened up to students, faculty and staff this year, allowing them to utilize the walkway. Though it is a convenient and a faster way into the building, the walkway must be demolished as part of the master plan for the campus.

The School of Law will be housed in the building adjacent from the parking garage, meaning the walkway will disrupt the main entrance way that will be constructed for that building.

“[The walkway] goes right into the front door of the School of Law and kind of detracts the entry and takes it away. So it’s really just a design element,” Filardi said. “There will be a main entry that will serve the law school; [the walkway] really interrupts all of that.”

According to Filardi, the new addition will have an entry to the School of Law that will push out, thus making the walk shorter from the parking garage to the entrance of the building.

The North Haven Campus currently has two parking lots and one garage. The first parking lot is closest to the School of Education, the second parking lot is directly across the School of Medicine and the parking garage is closest to where the School of Law will be.

However, the closest parking spots to the main entrance of the center for medicine (Buildings 1 and 2) are currently occupied by the construction workers, Graduate Physical Therapy student Michael Lesse said.

Lesse is concerned for the clients he and other students work with, as well as some professors and staff members, that have difficulty walking.

“Save our Walkway” petitions have made rounds around the North Haven Campus in recent weeks. The petitions were initiated by professors and signed by faculty and students in protest of the plan to demolish it.

“You can see that everyone is using [the walkway], it’s the main way in and out,” Lesse said.

Those in protest of the demolition plans have contacted Filardi with their concerns. Once the university is sure of the exact plan, Filardi said those involved in the plan will meet with the associate deans and professors of the North Haven Campus in an open forum to better explain their decisions and address their concerns.

“The problem is we’re in the middle of planning for it so we don’t have every ‘T’ crossed and every ‘I’ dotted. We can talk about generally speaking what we are trying to accomplish,” Filardi said. “There are certain things when you’re doing this kind of stuff, it’s really not–it’s not an option, so it’s not an option for us to make an entry where they can go straight in because this is all a construction site.”

One concern for the North Haven Campus is handicap accessibility, including handicapped parking, Lesse said.

To help with that concern, around nine new handicap parking spots were created closest to Building 2 no more than 200 feet from the building for coding reasons with automatic door openers waiting to be installed.

“We understand the handicap concerns and we’re trying to address them by closer parking, and again this is for the next year,” Filardi said. “When the building opens it will be completely accessible.”

The School of Law building is completely under construction, creating a construction zone up to the main entrance of the School of Medicine that people must go around.

“I think that’s one of the concerns people have because quite frankly they have a longer walk to the building, but there’s nothing we can do about it in short term,” Filardi said.

Certain areas in the North Haven Campus will be under construction in the next two years with plans to relocate the bookstore and changes to Building 4, which is located behind the parking garage, Filardi said. Building 4 will house a fitness center, a health center, a Public Safety dispatch, information services (IT) and storage.

“The construction we’re doing today is really to give us the facilities that we need to be successful in the future with the programs that we have or the programs that we’ve instituted,” Filardi said.