The hill that Philander Chase settled on is about to get significantly less steep.
In some places, the paths leading down from Old Kenyon Residence Hall and from Peirce Hall to the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) reach a grade, or slope, of 22 percent. The College plans to reduce the steepness of that grade to anywhere between eight and 14 percent by dumping the dirt that will be excavated during the demolition of Olin and Chalmers Memorial Library and construction of the new library.
According to Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman, Kenyon’s administrators have discussed addressing the steepness and accessibility of the KAC hill, as it is colloquially known, since the KAC was first built in 2006. They have the resources to address this project with a surplus of materials from the West Quad construction project.
The College plans to begin addressing the KAC hill either this upcoming fall or by March 2019, when the weather warms up again. Regardless of the start date, they aim to finish the project by the beginning of the fall semester in 2019.
“It’s still going to be pretty steep,” Kohlman said. “There’s not enough distance between the top of the hill and the KAC to really reduce the slope down to a four or five percent grade.” Kohlman remarked that for those with any sort of obstacles to mobility, such as injured student-athletes, their best option will still be to get a ride up from the KAC. But he emphasized that for a hill that drops around 40 feet in elevation, lessening the grade will help.
Beyond reducing the steepness of the hill, Kohlman said that plans to re-align the footpaths will make the climb easier for students. As the paths currently stand, students walking from Peirce to the KAC often opt for a worn-down stretch of grass where they can make a more direct path to the KAC than by sticking on the pavement.
Re-aligning the current footpaths to better conform to the contours of the hill and removing the less-frequented portion of the paths will create a more accessible route for students.
As for what this construction will look like, Kohlman said it begins with dumping the dirt from the West Quad construction project into the Benson Bowl, the bottom of the hill across the street from the KAC.
“There’s lots of large equipment,” Kohlman said. “The first step is going to be that they are just going to dump … somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock that comes out of the library hill in a big pile down there.”
From there, the dirt will be transported to the KAC hill and to the 15-foot drop in elevation between the VandenBerg Tennis Courts and the other athletic fields.
In order to reroute the paths up the KAC hill, Kohlman said that the College would have to remove 19 trees. Four of these are larger trees, and three of those four are either unhealthy or dying.
The fourth tree is being removed in order to reroute the path away from three other trees.
The remaining 15 trees are smaller trees that the College has planted in the last five or so years, and they will be moved elsewhere on campus.
Kenyon’s policy is to plant a minimum of one tree for each tree that is removed, but Kohlman said the College will try to place at least two trees for every one that is removed for KAC hill work.
While the KAC hill is under construction, the primary pathway to the KAC will be the sidewalk alongside Acland and Duff streets.