Prospect pathway temporarily closed due to safety concerns

Graphic by Carrie Clowers ’18

Graphic by Carrie Clowers ’18

BY  AVA BLUM-CARR ’21

Last Monday morning, a feeble tree in danger of falling over resulted in the temporary closure of the path between 1837 Hall and Prospect Hall. 

Chris Domina, assistant director of Landscape and Cleaning Services, said that the tree was reported to Facilities Management by a member of the community who walks across campus on a regular basis. 

“We went and looked at the tree, and it had a crack and was also deteriorating near the base of the stump,” said Domina. Due to the size of the tree, it would have easily hit the sidewalk had it fallen. 

Barricades were put up at both ends of the pathway in an effort to deter pedestrians from passing by the tree. “Anyone walking there was in danger, and that’s why we decided to take it down,” said Domina. 

Many students reported being inconvenienced by the forced detour, even though they knew Mount Holyoke had their safety in mind.

“It was easy to forget that the path was blocked off since travelling that way is [part of] my normal routine,” said 1837 resident Kallie Fellows ’21. “As a result I had to go five to 10 minutes out of my way to get to class and was often late. It made it a 15 minute walk to breakfast when before it was only two minutes to Prospect.” 

Domina said that she knew of some students who disregarded the barrier, and snuck through the gates to reach their destinations. 

Deanna Kalian ’20 went around the barrier last Tuesday as she was walking from 1837 to a class in Shattuck. She was eventually caught by Facilities Management.

“As I and someone else were walking between the barriers a truck pulled up and two construction workers got out. They were pretty angry and said we could get seriously hurt and to tell our friends to stop going through,” said Kalian. 

Kalian was surprised by how easily students could bypass the barrier.“Why did they make a barrier if they knew it couldn’t stop people from going through?” she asked. 

The pathway was reopened on Tuesday evening, after the tree had been successfully removed. 

The decision to remove the tree came just a few weeks after three Mount Holyoke students were almost hit by a falling oak tree outside of Buckland Hall on Oct. 10. But Domina said that the department’s quick response was not related to last month’s incident. 

“When these things are reported to us and something poses a hazard, we act on it,” he said. 

“We have two arborists who work here, and we also hire an outside contractor to determine if a tree is diseased or poses a threat in any way, but, you know, there are so many trees,” he added. “Occasional stuff happens and you just hope that no one gets hurt.” 

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