by Allison Roberts
The once condemned but now renovated gazebo behind North Hall is one of a few traditional locations at Southeastern undergoing a beautification process. Others include the Kissing Circle and the fountain on the front lawn, both of which have had flowers planted around them in recent months.
Student Senator Jerreck McWilliams said that, among other freshmen at the time, he took notice of the gazebo early on in the fall of 2008, not long before it was condemned.
When asked why the gazebo was condemned, director of the Physical Plant Eddie Harbin explained that it was considered unsafe by Southeastern’s Safety Department. “The exposed wooden walkway had weather damaged over the years, and some of the wood inside had deteriorated, causing hazards. There were also ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) issues with accessibility,” Harbin said.
McWilliams said that he and other student senators had the desire to fix it up. They didn’t know how to go about it, though.
He said that demolition of the gazebo was an idea. “Several people voiced their concerns at tearing it down, however, because it holds so much traditional sentiment to the students who remember it,” he explained. Tearing it down was no longer a consideration.
In the fall of 2011, Student Senate was able to start acting on its hopes to clean up the traditional location on campus. McWilliams said this was done in conjunction with the Safety and Beautification Committee.
Once Student Senate had the dedication and numbers to follow through with such a project, he said Safety and Beautification began to think of ways to improve the area without upsetting students or alumni.
He explained that the favorite solution of Safety and Beautification, one he described as “additive and mobile,” was to buy park furniture and a charcoal grill to add to the gazebo.
The gazebo renovations cost $1,055.87, which came from the general funds of Student Government Association, current president of SGA Matthew Sitton said. McWilliams explained that there was trouble with the shipping from Oklahoma Correctional Industries but that the furniture arrived over the winter break.
McWilliams explained, “We plan on having at least one more major beautification event this semester. This will most likely be at the gazebo because this is the area we feel needs the most attention on campus right now.”
Other than installation of the furniture and grill, renovations likely to take place during the next I Am SE event include building a flowerbed around the gazebo, McWilliams said. I Am SE is a series of campus-wide community service events intended to promote a better sense of campus ownership among students, Sitton explained.
Sitton said the gazebo renovation was not initially intended to be part of I Am SE; however, when the initiative was proposed, the renovation idea fit well enough with it to be included.
So far, the gazebo’s walkway has been removed, the seats renovated, the fire pit cleaned and its furniture purchased. He also said that much of this clean up was completed by the Physical Plant, which will also help install the park furniture.
McWilliams expressed appreciation to Eddy Harbin, director of the Physical Plant, who he described as “always a huge help to Safety and Beautification and a valuable asset to the university,” along with the Safety and Beautification Committee itself for the planning of furniture and projects.
According to McWilliams, Student Senate is determined to have the renovations done by the end of the year. He explained, “We wanted to fix the gazebo because it was one of the places we identified as being steeped in tradition and close to the heart of Southeastern.”
The SE gazebo amidst renovation efforts. (Staff photo by Tiffany Logue)
The fire pit within the gazebo received a facelift during the renovations made. (Photo by Tiffany Logue)