The mounds of dirt located outside of Carnesecca Arena are a result of St. John’s latest construction project, aimed at improving drainage around Taffner Fieldhouse.
According to Fidelis Oziegbe, project director for St. John’s Department of Facilities, the construction outside Carnesecca Arena is just the first phase of a larger plan, which will include not only fixing the drainage, but also paving the area.
“Anytime it rains, there is a lot of flooding in Taffner,” Oziegbe said. “The existing drainage system did not have the capacity to handle all the rain, so we’re enlarging the drainage system.”
The construction will add around 2,000 feet of pipes, running underground from Taffner Fieldhouse to as far out as Union Turnpike, said Oziegbe. He explained that the plan aims to elevate the water using a grating system to ensure that there will be no more flooding.
The initial construction outside of Carnesecca Arena, according to Oziegbe, has taken about “four to six weeks” already, but it should not be taking as long as it has been.
“It’s an aggressive project,” Oziegbe said, “but the anticipation was it would only take three to four weeks. We are about a week late, due to scheduling conflicts.”
According to Oziegbe, the construction had to be postponed periodically over the last few weeks to accommodate events held at Carnesecca Arena, which he noted “always take precedence.”
Oziegbe also said that there have been some obstacles during the digging process.
“There are some pipes that run across where we are that we cannot cross, so we have to go deeper than necessary to accommodate. “Once we run into a problem like that,” he added, “we have to stop and find other ways to do it and bring the engineer on and listen to his recommendations.”
Oziegbe went on to say that the large piles of dirt in front of Carnesecca Arena should be gone in about a week. The second phase of the construction project, he said, will begin around April and continue until around May.
“The second phase is paving, and that’s not going to be as big a production as it is now outside of Carnesecca,” Oziegbe said. “We will patch the soil and grate it and make it walkable. Then around April or May, when the weather warms up, we will start paving.”
Most students appear to dislike the construction, many claiming that it has hindered their commutes by effectively blocking gate 4.
“It makes me late in the morning since I have to drive all the way around to gate 1,” said senior Tracy Barbot. “What were they doing during the five weeks we had off for winter break? God forbid if someone gets hurt now.”
Freshman Valerie Darcelus agreed. “It’s an inconvenience in every way,” she said.
Sophomore William Landicho believes that the University should have prioritized finishing the construction sooner.
“They said they’d be done in a week or so, and that was before spring break. Now, it’s not even done yet, so I just park elsewhere and avoid it.”
Other students are upset over the construction because it makes getting into Carnesecca Arena inconvenient.
“The construction doesn’t affect my commute since I take the bus,” said junior Bryner Rodriguez, “but it does affect when I go to the gym. It’s really annoying.”