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Middle Path To Be Resurfaced

Middle Path To Be Resurfaced

By August Steigmeyer

It took a core-sampling machine to answer the perennial question: does Middle Path need paving?

An auger machine took samples of the walkway over Thanksgiving break as part of a plan to re-landscape several areas at Kenyon. The College hired landscape architects to devise a master plan for the aesthetic future of the campus. The architects will submit their suggestions to the trustees, who make final decisions about landscaping this spring.

No tree roots were found under Middle Path, according to President S. Georgia Nugent, which means the surface of the path can undergo change without adversely affecting the nearby trees. With this information in mind, the architects proposed a plan to lay down a new surface on the path, then cover it with the original gravel, creating a four-inch layer of stabilized gravel.

“[It] looks almost exactly like the gravel looks now, but what it would provide is better drainage, and it stabilizes the path,” Nugent said. “Over the course of the year, Middle Path gets wider and wider. With this, it remains within the appropriate boundaries.”

The same company that trucked the auger machine to campus also installed test drainage tubes along Middle Path. “These tubes are used to measure how long it takes for water to be absorbed in to the surrounding ground,” Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said in an email. “This will help design how water is removed from the path.”

The College may install a test strip of the new material under one of the gravel paths that diverges at Old Kenyon. “So people can see it so they have a sense of what it will look like,” Nugent said. “The notion is to restore it to what it was meant to be.”

The landscape architects were on campus last week to meet with a steering committee made up of students, faculty, staff and community members who are working on the renovation projects. The architects and these committee are concentrating on reconstructing Middle Path while looking to make aesthetic improvements across campus.

The landscape architects are readying a master plan that would manage the College’s physical appearance for the next 40-50 years.

“One area that may be of interest to students is they’re looking at the situation in front of Peirce and coming up with a better solution than everybody throwing their bikes in front of the building,” Nugent said.

In addition to these landscaping changes, the College is exploring new uses for Bexley Hall, which the art department will vacate next fall when the new Horvitz Center for the Arts opens.

“What we’re looking to do is find a short-term use that would really only utilize the first floor, which is in pretty good shape,” Nugent said. “We’d probably be looking at an interim holding pattern to create a little office space for something. We don’t know what yet.”

Further renovations, however, which Nugent estimates would likely cost between $10 and $12 million, are currently unfeasible. “We’re just not prepared to undertake that kind of project now,” she said.

“It’s an historic building, it’s important to us,” Nugent said. “It’s just that we’ve engaged in so many building projects that this isn’t really the moment to take on another $12 million project.”

Until the master plan is unveiled to the trustees this spring, the College has no projected timeline for these landscaping projects, Nugent said. The cost has yet to be determined, according to Kohlman.

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