Council looks at issues around Skelly Field lot
The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Governing Council addressed concerns about the proposal of construction on Skelly Field last night in a meeting at the Cook Campus Center.
Attendees discussed a variety of issues concerning the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, including the Skelly Field controversy and a change in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences core curriculum.
Robert Goodman, the executive dean of the school, said he attended the meeting with the purpose of listening to any questions or concerns of students.
When the council first learned about the proposed construction of a parking lot on Skelly Field, it held a council meeting and members unanimously voted in opposition.
Members proceeded to send a letter to Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi and other University deans stating their opposition of construction on the presumed Environmental Protection Agency-protected field.
E.J. Miranda, director of University Media Relations, said the location of the planned construction is not an EPA-protected site, even though maps on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection website show otherwise.
At the meeting, Goodman confirmed that Skelly Field is not a wetland or EPA-protected field according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Rutgers has raised more than $75 million in funding for the new Food Science Building, Goodman said. If the remaining money is not spent on the new parking lot after the University completes the project, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences can spend these funds on academics.
He said he would much rather see that money spent on academics.
Goodman also said from a moral standpoint, Rutgers should not build more surface parking spaces on Cook campus because it does not promote environmental efficiency.
“Go look at the Douglass parking deck any day or night,” he said. “There are plenty of spots.”
Goodman said he was surprised to notice how few faculty and staff have objected the plans to build on Skelly Field.
If the parking lot must be built, Goodman thinks it should be constructed to include recycled pavement and bioswales, simple structures that remove silt and pollution from water runoff.
He said University officials should visit Hillsborough’s Duke Farm, an estate that promotes ecological stewardship.
“If we really need a parking lot, it should be environmentally responsible,” Goodman said. “Or why don’t we convert the ones we already have?”
Goodman said he does not know what will happen and worries that students and faculty may come back in the spring to find a parking lot on Skelly Field.
“I feel strongly on this,” he said. “My view on this is well known, and I hope we prevail.”
Goodman acknowledged that Rutgers is undergoing an important period of transition, marked by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey integration and future construction plans.
“You are here at a time when Rutgers is undergoing another major change,” he said.
Richard Ludescher, dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences’ Academic Programming, said University officials proposed curriculum changes that would include a more focus on the environment and climate change.
Ludescher said a focus on climate change is especially important for students in this generation.
The curriculum will also include a greater emphasis on writing, Ludescher said, because writing is important in the working field. He said if a person has strong writing skills, he or she has a greater chance of a future promotion.