Set to absorb another punishing budget cut from the state, Oswego State has still found a way to keep a little green on campus.
October saw the college allocate $70,000 for improvements including planters, plants, benches and trash receptacles, with most of the effort concentrated on the west side of campus. A total of 18 planters were delivered to the four West Campus residence halls and to the grassy area by parking lot 12, known as the Seneca lot. Three more planters have been ordered for the land behind Tyler Hall.
The recent budget cuts, which will be enforced on Oswego State this March, have not impacted the project. Portions of the $70,000 used for the project came out of last year’s budget and some came out of this year.
"It was a matter of timing," said Director of Facilities Maintenance and Operations Mary DePentu. Most of the purchase orders were submitted right at the end of the fiscal year last year, well before the recent cuts.
The West Campus facelift was spurred by the upcoming completion of the townhouse plans, DePentu said.
"If we didn’t do anything with the townhouses going in, it would have looked really bad," DePentu said.
As of now, the 18 planters on campus have remained empty except for the occasional cigarette butt. Not to worry, Depentu said, as thousands of bulbs are on the way. The planters will also hold hearty trees and shrubs suited to the Oswego winters and bloom during the school months. The flowers, trees and shrubs are expected to be delivered sometime next week, Depentu said, who personally selected all the vegetation.
But in the few weeks the planters have been on campus, they have already been embroiled in controversy.
According to Tara Stover, a resident assistant in Oneida Hall, University Police had to be called when another resident assistant found that someone had drawn swastikas in the four planters outside of Oneida Hall.
"They are a really stupid idea," Stover said of the planters. "It was pointless to put flowerpots with all the snow. They are becoming cigarette [ashtrays]."
While the problem of the plants dying due to snow can be solved by the types of plants, the problem of the cigarette butts is harder to solve.
"I like the fact that they are trying to beautify campus," said Deidrinelle Rouse, residence hall director of Seneca Hall, but she also said "they are being used as ashtrays."
DePentu said she hopes that when the planting is finished people will be discouraged from using the planters as ashtrays but acknowledged that there really isn’t anything that can be done to stop the problem.
Another reason the planters were ordered was due to the large number of utility wires running underground, making it virtually impossible to bury anything on West Campus, DePentu said.
Also scheduled to be installed are two sets of four new benches that will be going in on the islands in front of Seneca and Oneida Halls. These have already arrived and will be placed once the planting is finished.
"The planters are meant to be a threshold," DePentu said. She said it is sometimes hard for new students to find the entrance to the buildings. The same technique has been used in other places on campus such as in front of Culkin Hall.
DePentu said that the planters and the other improvements are all a work in progress and will continue to be adjusted based on feedback from campus personnel.