Photo by Genevieve Humphreys
Over winter break, Trinity’s facilities services began construction on Heidi Circle, a parking circle near some of the upperclassmen residence halls.
According to Jim Baker, director of Facilities Services, the installation of firetruck access in the Heidi Circle is part of the plan to increase fire safety in the surrounding buildings. Last summer, fire sprinklers were installed in Susanna Wesley, Isabel McFarlin and Myrtle McFarlin residence halls, which meant that fire trucks would need to be able to access these buildings.
“While Heidi Circle was always great for pedestrian cars, for our cars, it didn’t meet code for fire truck access,” Baker said. “So we’re widening Heidi Circle. We smoothed out some of the corners. It used to be kind of angular, now it’s going to be more radius coming in.”
When the project is finished, Heidi Circle will still have available parking spots for students, but the two honor parking spots will be lost.
“Those [honor parking spots] will be marked for no parking because of what we call an FDC, which stands for the Fire Department Connection. There’s one for each building right up in front where the fire truck would stop,” Baker said. “What that does is it allows the firetruck, which has a pump built into the truck, to connect to that remote connection and allows them to pump water into each specific building that has a potential fire, and they boost the water pressure to the fire sprinkler system.”
Some students have found that the construction in Heidi Circle makes it more difficult for them to park in the area and navigate to classes. One student explained how the construction makes it difficult for her to access accessible parking close to the Storch Memorial Building.
“I always use my handicapped parking spot whenever I’m parking, and a lot of my classes are in the Storch Memorial Building,” said Cathy Terrace, senior. “There’s only one parking spot that’s handicapped-accessible at the parking lot, and there’s another that’s very close to the chapel. Besides those two spots, there are only two others, and those are in the Heidi Circle. All of last semester, inevitably when there would be no parking available at either the chapel or Storch, I would always go to Heidi Circle and park there.”
Terrace has since tried to park in handicapped-accessible spots near Marrs McLean or Parker Chapel.
“That’s a little farther away from Storch, but it’s not terribly far,” Terrace said. “But also because there is such a displacement now, a lot more people are trying to park in those parking spots because Heidi has been taken over by construction. I think parking overall [is affected] because sometimes I can’t even find regular parking spots in those scenarios.”
The construction has also caused some inconveniences for students living in the residence halls surrounding Heidi Circle.
“There’s a little bit less parking,” said Kayla Suhler, junior and resident of Myrtle Residence Hall. “Not that I usually get parking, but sometimes there’s a space. The closest parking lot is right in front of the pool, so we have to take the stairs up and go that way, but I can sometimes find parking on the street next to the dorm. Sometimes the construction is in the way if I come down from CSI. I try to come up the sidewalk, but the fence will block it.”
Although the fire sprinklers were installed last summer, Baker felt that it would be best to start the Heidi Circle project over winter break.
“We did not want to do it the week that you guys were coming back for the fall semester,” Baker said. “That would have been really bad for move-in, it would have been bad for you guys, so we waited for the fall semester to be over, let you guys all get in and get in the groove. It was really delayed because we wanted this incoming class to get settled in, go on your winter break and allow us to get started on that. And the fire department allowed us an extension based on [that] we are an institute of education, and they understand the disruption that kind of site work causes.”
Baker explained that delays in the construction since it started have been due to weather and that, while he cannot confirm when the project will be complete, he said he hopes that it will be done soon.
“It is all rain-driven,” Baker said. “I’m hesitant to put a date out, but we are just beginning to put it all back together. I think that that’s a reasonable statement to say that we’re done destroying the site, we’re going to start building it back now.”
Baker thanked students for tolerating the construction.
“Everything is disruptive, but it really is for the students’ safety,” Baker said.