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IU Northwest News

Campus community considers ideas for Tamarack green space

An estimated 450+ individuals place votes at picnic; favored ideas to go before other IU Northwest groups for more input

Thursday Oct 18, 2012

Students, faculty and staff members crowded the voting area in the Moraine Student Center on the day of the Chancellor’s Office’s campus picnic in early October. Green stickers in hand, they pondered the proposals before them, ready to vote on their favorite ideas for how to develop more than an acre of space left behind by the demolition of Tamarack Hall.

Cody Artuso, a freshman nursing student, lobbied for the athletic field as he placed all four of his votes there, and promised to bring his basketball teammates over to do the same. Having an outdoor athletic field on campus, he explained, would surely be the catalyst for more collegiate sports, as well as intramurals.

Gavin Mariano, an IU Bloomington alumnus pursuing his Master of Social Work at IU Northwest, was excited to see dots going up in favor of the idea he submitted: an arboretum with a “Sample Gates”- style entryway similar to that of IU Bloomington.

From parks to pavilions to prairies, 25 green space suggestions were collected via the IU Northwest Council’s Electronic Suggestion Box and compiled into the 17 suggestions put on display for public consideration. The engaging event drew an estimated 450-plus members of the campus community.

Chancellor William Lowe said Indiana University has mandated that the area be used for a green space because it is a natural wetland and prone to flooding, a fact that eventually led to the building’s demolition.  

Judging by the number of stickers, the overwhelming favorite was a performance venue, followed by a park, an athletic field, and a walking track.

Embracing the area’s natural tendencies, SPEA students Missy Grish and Kelly Clemens set the tone for the discussions. They presented their idea for the green space, which they had developed as part of a class project. Their plan, which involves a dry stream, a pavilion and natural plants that thrive in the area, received a good portion of the votes, making it the fifth most popular option.

Lowe said the event was largely a way to “test the strength of the preferences,” and vet the ideas through the campus community before taking them to a town hall-style meeting before a broader group of stakeholders, including alumni and others.

The ideas under consideration fell into four categories.

Public art ideas included: a war memorial to honor employees killed in the line of duty; sculptures with surrounding seating and paths; a large abstract industrial sculpture to represent the steel industry; and a labyrinth for education and reflection.

Wellness-related ideas included: a walking track; an athletic field; a disc golf course; and a playground.

Environmental ideas included: a plan to restore the area’s natural wetlands; relocation of the community garden; a sustainability project; and a dry stream, pavilion and natural plants.

Culture-related ideas included: a performance venue; a student union with stage and seating; a park and gazebo; and an arboretum styled after that of IU Bloomington.

Lowe added that once a proposal is developed and approved by IU, a fundraising campaign will take place specifically to pay for the project.

Bernadette Resto, a senior accounting major and staff member from Information Technology Services, attended because she wanted to “have a say in what goes there.” She applauded the event planners, a working group from the IU Northwest Council, saying that it is important for students to be involved in the decision-making process.

Mark Ramsey, IU’s director of landscape architecture, oversees the site restoration project happening now on the Tamarack site. On campus for a construction progress meeting, he stopped by the event, which he acknowledged as a unique way of engaging the campus in the planning process.

Ultimately, Ramsey will be the one to receive the campus’s wish list and develop the plans.

He said that when the restoration is complete, “it’s going to feel collegiate.” Whatever the campus decides to add to the greened up space as funding becomes available, he said, will surely maintain that feel.

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