UA to Turn Off Fountains, Forgo Replanting
The University of Arizona campus will be a little drier and a little less green, as the University prepares to turn off its fountains and cut back on replanting in an effort to trim costs.
The University's 13 water fountains and features â€“ including prominent attractions like the Old Main and Alumni Plaza fountains â€“ will be turned off indefinitely, and the University will not resod a high-traffic area of the UA Mall or replant flowers across most of campus, according to a memo written by Joel D. Valdez, senior vice president for business affairs.
Al Tarcola, director of Facilities Management, said some people have criticized the University for spending money on aesthetic grounds features, such as fountains, when some are facing job losses in the wake of budget cuts. He said he approached Valdez about taking steps to reduce costs.
"It's a waste relative to people being laid off," Tarcola said.
The UA is facing an estimated $57 million midyear budget cut as a result of a $142 million cut in state funding for higher education, and more cuts are expected next year.
In recent months, water and electricity costs have increased by 13 percent and at least 6 percent respectively, Tarcola said. Pair that with costs of supplies, cleaning and maintenance, and ceasing fountain operation could result in significant savings for the University.
Most fountains on campus now run seven days a week between the approximate hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., said Chris Kopach, associate director of Facilities Management.
For the foreseeable future, just two fountains will operate, and only on three occasions a year: The fountain in the Student Union Memorial Center will operate on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, and the Alumni Plaza fountain, in front of the Administration building, will be turned on during Homecoming and graduation.
Besides pulling the plug on water features, the UA will not resod the area of grass on the Mall between Old Main and the Joseph Wood Krutch Cactus Garden this summer, Kopach said.
The high-traffic area is normally closed off and resodded after school lets out in May, while the rest of the mall is aerated and fertilized, Kopach said. Without resodding, the grass won't be able to hold up to heavy foot traffic when school starts, Kopach said.
"It's not going to look at nice as we like," he said. "But it's a prudent measure."
The rest of the Mall will be maintained as usual, but those standard maintenance measures are not enough to keep up the heaviest traveled portion of the Mall, which requires the thickness of new sod to hold up year to year.
Flowers planted on campus also will not be replaced when the weather warms up, except for those in the Old Main fountain area.
Normally, flowers in varying locations across campus are replanted twice a year, according to seasonal changes in May/June and late September/October, Kopach said. This year, dead flowers will be removed but not replaced.
It's unclear when or if the cost saving measures will be reversed. That will depend on the budget situation, Tarcola said.