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The Antelope

Otto Olsen demo prep breaks up key commuter parking

Photo by Jiyoon Kim Classes in the Otto Olsen building have been permanently moved to Discovery Hall.

As UNK gears up to begin demolition of Otto Olsen constructed in 1955, Lot 32 north of the building is closed to make room for contractors. A few more steps must be taken before the full demolition process begins.

Lee McQueen, UNK’s director of Facilities Management and Planning, said the project is right on track.

“They expect to be done with the abatement toward the end of this month,” McQueen said. “Then the next step would be to get the abatement contractor on site in early March and start the demolition process, which we hope to be done during the summer of ’21.”

Abatement is the removal of excess materials such as asbestos before actually beginning to demolish the building. Facilities Management and Planning has taken the necessary precautions to dispose of any hazardous material.

“[Hazardous material] was appropriately maintained through the years to be safe to the folks in the buildings,” McQueen said. “Now it needs to be appropriately handled so we reduce the cost of demolition and disposal.”

Although Otto Olsen is the main focus of the demolition project, McQueen said the full project also encompasses the teardown of Conrad Hall, the east heating facility that is no longer in use, and the former Luke & Jake’s Bar-B-Q building southeast of campus.

Lot 32 —  which was designated as commuter parking and included handicapped spaces and loading zones — has now been blocked off to give the demolition contractors room to work and space for equipment. The closure of Lot 32 is expected to be permanent, as the plan is to extend east the green space that is to the south of Men’s Hall.

Though UNK’s intention is to benefit students in the long run, some commuters that regularly use Lot 32 are discouraged by its closure.

Music business senior Giovanni Flores has experienced the inconvenience of the unavailability of the lot.

“It’s a lot harder to get to class quickly, so it’s having to relocate and park off-campus even though you paid for the pass because off-campus spots are closer to your classes,” Flores said. “It’s a lot more planning and a lot more hassle than it should be.”

An instrumentalist, Flores must now plan ahead to transport instruments more efficiently now that he must park farther away from the Fine Arts Building.

Commuters may be disgruntled now, but they could have some good news in the near future. Parking Coordinator Ted Eichholz said they are working with the chancellor’s office about future parking plans for commuters displaced by the closure of Lot 32.

Though Lot 32 is closed for parking, there is still a path to drive on the south side of

Randall Hall, and there has even been a path cleared for people to walk across the area to get to the other side of the street.

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