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College St. construction deadline pushed to mid-March due to complications

Once the construction is completed in March, the new green space will be a gathering space for students, featuring brick walkways, seating areas, and a sand volleyball court.
Once the construction is completed in March, the new green space will be a gathering space for students, featuring brick walkways, seating areas, and a sand volleyball court.

As students returned to campus after the holidays this January, the construction on the College St. green space in front of Plunkett Hall was still underway. This was surprising for students, especially first-years living in the area, who were under the impression the green space would be finished when they returned from winter break.

According to Dr. James Netherton, executive vice president for administration and finance at Mercer, while the project was originally scheduled to be completed in January, complications with weather and the difficulty of installing utilities below ground pushed the completion date back to March 15.

“After all the heavy rain we've had recently, that slowed things down,” Netherton said. “Our projected completion date was March 18, so the contractors, to try to get it finished by March 15, are going to work some longer days, work some into the night, and do some weekend work to try to get it up.”

Construction workers needed to replace water and sewage lines beneath College St., which they did in two phases, first on the Godsey Science Center side, and then on the other side of the street, in front of the Mary Erin Porter dormitory complex. There were several days where progress was halted due to heavy rain. 

Sahasra Maddu ‘27, who lives in Plunkett Hall, spoke with the Cluster in early September about the project. At the time, she wasn’t thrilled about the construction, but believed it would be worth it in the long run. Four months later, Maddu said she was surprised to see it still in progress when she returned to campus. 

“I literally drove back, like expecting it to be done, and then the first thing that I like texted in the dorm group chat was that it still wasn't finished, ” Maddu said.

Her suitemates were equally surprised. Maddu said this semester she’s been trying to focus on the positives about her environment, but she feels that the construction is really impacting her first year at Mercer. 

“I was trying to find a good study space. So I went to the Which Which area, and then you look outside your window and its just construction, and it’s just so hard to feel motivated and inspired when that's my view," Maddu said.

She bought noise canceling headphones to block out the sounds of the construction in her dorm, which she said helps. 

The weather has also been an added frustration for first-year students attempting to navigate through the construction. Maddu said she was happy a path had finally been added, acting as a shortcut through the middle of the area, but this was short lived due to the rain.

“Now whenever it rains, it's like a huge, muddy puddle. Like my shoes have gotten so dirty I keep having to clean them,” Maddu said. 

Meredith Zierten ‘27 has also been frustrated by the construction's stalled progress. She originally chose Plunkett Hall because she was told it was the closest to everything else on campus.

"If it (the construction) wasn't there, I could easily walk to so many places on campus. But since it's there it adds like an extra, like 3 to 5 minutes, basically to any walk around campus," Zierten said.

Zierten said she understands the construction needs to happen, but she doesn’t get to reap the rewards now that it won’t be completed until the Spring. 

“I’ve seen the pictures, and I really like the outcome,” Zierten said. “I am excited, but I feel like the next freshman class are really going to be able to enjoy and I'm happy for them, but it just kind of sucks that I didn't get to enjoy it my freshman year.”

Zierten also wishes there had been more communication with students throughout the process.

“I didn't even know this construction was going to happen in the first place when I came to Mercer, and I wish they had at least sent us an email about like, maybe, a tentative date when this would be done,” Zierten said.

According to Netherton, the underground work has now been completed. The masonry work should be completed in the next few days, and the volleyball courts will be done in February. He said it's the nature of construction work that some things go slower than expected. 

“Like the students, I'm looking forward to it being finished. And we're going to do everything possible to make sure that we reach that March 15 date,” Netherton said.

The construction has been in process since the summer. HGOR Architects, a planning and landscape architecture firm based in Atlanta, designed the project.

Eliza Moore

Eliza Moore ‘24 is an English and Journalism student at Mercer University. She is now in her second year working as The Cluster’s News Editor after a semester abroad. She is currently producing work for Macon Magazine and Georgia Public Broadcasting in addition to her work with The Cluster. She loves breakfasts, the ocean, and all things related to writing.


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