North Campus ‘Wedge’ to Serve As Park

After 15 years of planning, construction finally began last month to turn the fourth slice of “Wedge” lot — 82,000 square feet of open space in Eleanor Roosevelt College — into a sustainable park area.

The site attracted the attention of student environmentalists last year when the university proposed to turn the space — located just east of North Torrey Pines Rd. — into a parking lot. Organizations like Greeks Gone Green and the Compost Team petitioned the A.S. Council, arguing that the Wedge should fulfill its original purpose of becoming a sustainable space. Their actions drew the attention of Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, who supported the project as well.

UCSD Physical Planning specialists first envisioned the Wedge in 1994 as consisting of four “phases” of construction in ERC between Ridge Walk and North Torrey Pines Rd. Phases I and II — which covered ERC’s main stairs and the winding path north of Cafe Ventanas — were realized in 2003, while Phase III was completed in 2007.

However, the university lacked financial support for the space between the Village and ERC, and construction remained idle until student protests drew attention to the area.

“Student groups paid attention and got people to notice,” Todd Pitman, senior planner for UCSD Physical Planning and chair of the Open Space Committee, said. “Chancellor Fox then decided that construction should begin as well.”

According to Pitman, the long-term goals for the area include creating a functional space with solar capabilities, natural seating and pedestrian walkways. Additionally, runoff water from other parts of campus will be reclaimed to irrigate the area’s landscaping.

“This project is good for the public’s perception of UCSD,” Pitman said. “We would be showing that we practice what we preach by having a sustainable area.”

The university still lacks the funding for all these goals to be met, but Assistant Vice Chancellor of Physical and Community Planning Brian D. Gregory said there is enough to convert the existing parking lot into a sustainable area.

“We don’t have the money to do the complete project, which would cost over $2 million, and it is going to take time to get additional money,” Gregory said.

The first part of “Wedge Phase IV” consists of ripping out the asphalt, planting native coastal foliage and laying down pathways and infrastructure for future projects. According to Gregory, around $500,000 of the $900,000 bill will come from Housing and Dining Services, while the rest will be drawn from campuswide funds distributed at the chancellor’s discretion.

Turner Construction Company began the project in October, and landscape architects Spurlock Poirier worked with the Physical Planning Office to plan Phase IV. Construction is set for completion by January 2010.

Readers can contact Megha Ram at [email protected].

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