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Uprooting the gardens: on-campus stadium may relocate CSU’s horticulture program

Athletics would not be the only CSU program affected if the new stadium is built. Among the largest academic programs affected by the stadium project is the horticulture department.

“(The university has) submitted a program plan to move the (horticulture) facility, to the CSU board of governors, which they have approved,” said Steve Newman, the professor in charge of the horticulture greenhouses. “That approval does not include funding as of yet, and where that is going is the next stage.”

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This plan stipulates that many horticulture buildings would be relocated, according to James Klett, director of the Plant Environmental Research Center and head of the Quonsets buildings and all outside horticulture activities.

“If (the university) builds the stadium, which is still a question… they would have to move our facilities, which are our greenhouses and what we call the Quonsets, which are basically our offices for a lot of the activities that we do, to a new location,” Klett said.

According to Klett, the tentative new location for the horticulture department would be in south campus, directly north of the ropes courses. The department would also lose a significant amount of research area from its off-campus location at 630 W. Lake St.

The proposed new location is on a flood plain, which is a new challenge because all outdoor research will be destroyed if there is a flood.

Natalie Yoder, a horticulture graduate student, said that she is most concerned about this relocation impacting the presence of the horticulture department on campus and its accessibility to undergraduate students. However, she also expressed concern about the loss of ongoing graduate research.

“The biggest fear is the loss of long-term trials – if we were to rip those up,” Yoder said.

Despite those fears, Yoder said that this relocation could be a positive change for the horticulture department.

“In some aspects, it could be a really great thing,” Yoder said. “I feel like there will be some benefits… it will be an opportunity for the department to reorganize.”

Newman said that although inconvenient, this relocation could be beneficial to the department.

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“We would go from a facility that was originally built in 1949, to a modern facility,” Newman said. “It’s hard to debate having the opportunity to teach classes and do research in a brand-new, state-of-the-art greenhouse.”

Like Yoder, Newman expressed fears about the loss of graduate research, but said that he has spoken to Tony Frank about this issue.

“No harm should be done to any research project that is in place, so that’s part of the overall planning process,” Newman said. “It would be the goal of the institution… to have a new facility in place prior to the demolition of the existing facility.”

Klett, however, has doubts that the benefits of a new facility outweigh the inconveniences of having to relocate.

Klett said that although he recognizes the potential of a new facility, he would like to see real plans demonstrating that the new facilities will be an improvement.

“I think a lot of us have kind of mixed reactions,” Klett said. “I think we would like to see if this is really going to happen, and if it is really going to improve (the horticulture program).”

The horticulture department would also like to ensure that its programs are effectively organized in a new location, according to Klett.

“Right now there are a lot of our students that run the Plant and Environmental Research Center – we would definitely want that to continue at a new site (with) opportunity for that to expand, because that’s a great teaching facility along with a research facility,” Klett said. “Plus it’s also an outreach facility for our extension and outreach in the community, and the industry that we work with. That would have to all be incorporated also into this new facility.”

When working with the university to develop plans for the horticulture program’s relocation, Klett said that he hopes it is acknowledged for the work that it does as well as the facilities and equipment necessary to conduct its programs.

“I hope that (the university) would realize the importance of our graduate program that has been here for many years, and the importance of students doing plant-related research,” Klett said.

Collegian Reporter Ellie Mulder can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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