In July of 2022, Facilities Services at Rollins sent out word that Herbst Overlook was offline due to termite damage. The small wooden bridge was built to cover a section of Tiedtke Way by Sutton Apartments and the Rollins Garage where there is no sidewalk.
A brief period of being offline is annoying, sure, but I and many others overlooked this at the time. The curb step was inconvenient and not the safest at night, but not life-shattering, and we assumed that repairs would take a few months or perhaps even a semester at most. The path isn’t near classrooms or much of campus, so it didn’t present a major issue. Accessibility was a concern, but there was another accessible pathway available. It was a temporary problem, and we could temporarily manage.
Flash forward to Sept. 2023, more than two semesters after Herbst was originally taken offline, and nothing has been done to repair it. A report done by The Sandspur back in Oct. 2022 lays out the issue more specifically, noting that the unconnected path violates ADA regulations and is hazardous to those with mobility impairments.
At the annual State of the College presentation on Aug. 29, I asked Rollins College President Grant Cornwell if the college had any plans to fix Herbst. Cornwell agreed that “there needs to be a walkway that protects pedestrians … We are fully aware of that, and we do have a plan.”
Assistant VP of Facilities Services Jeremy Williamson explained that the college contracted with a dock builder to rebuild Herbst but “the dock builder did not follow through with their contractual obligations as of summer 2023.” The college is now once again in the contracting process and has no projected timeline for completion.
In the short term, Williamson said that the college is working with engineers to create a solution that deals with the impacts to Tiedtke Way. As of Sept. 15, barricades have been placed blocking off a section of Tiedtke way where Herbst once was. However, no ramps have been placed.
This is not the first time the college has asserted that they would handle damage in a timely manner only to come short at the expense of its students. When concrete fell from the façade of Ward Hall in 2021, the college assured the student body that the repairs would be done quickly. When we left for winter break, they said they would use this time with fewer students living in the dorm to speed up the repairs.
Ward Hall’s main entrance wasn’t complete until mid-Sept. 2022, roughly 10 months later (at least 4 of those months being months in which most residents were not living in the dorms and therefore were not an impediment to construction).
It appears that Tiedtke is getting the same treatment that Ward Hall did. For the college to have just now set up barricades roughly 14 months after Herbst was originally taken offline cannot only be blamed on the failure of a construction company to follow through. Implementing a short-term solution is supposed to be exactly what you do while the longer-term contracting is going on. Moreover, curb ramps can be purchased for under $150 a piece and plopped down in just a few minutes. Regardless of permitting and bureaucratic regulations slowing down construction, something could have been done. Instead, the college has given us a nebulous plan that points fingers instead of highlighting solutions.
Developing multi-year accessibility plans and long-term development goals for the college may be necessary for our future, but they do little to serve the students who are being negatively impacted now. We need ramps placed now, and the college can then work on more permanent solutions for the next 30 years for all I care—at least then we won’t have to see any more students play some sort of Frogger/Roulette inspired game of chicken at a narrow turn with a notoriously large blind spot.
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