If UNCP's new water feature has got you pondering, you're not alone.
Now that the centerpiece of this fall's million-dollar campus beautification project is nearing completion, the campus is eagerly anticipating its possibilities.
"It's going to be attractive," said sophomore Tom Mann. "The campus is going to look very nice."
Mann plans to take advantage of the water feature on warm days. "If I've got some reading to do, that's probably where I'll go to do it," he said.
Located in front of the Sampson-Livermore Library, the water feature boasts a bridge and a fountain. University Engineer Bess Tyner is familiar with the technical aspects of the $515,000 project.
There will also be an amphitheater with turf-covered seating for approximately 100 people, according to Tyner. The pond is about an acre in area, three-feet deep and will be lined with plastic. A nearby well will supply fresh water to it, and it will hold water to be used for irrigating the south side of campus.
"The water feature is for aesthetics mostly, but it will also help out with irrigation," Tyner said.
A steel bridge is already in place over the pond and will oxidize to give it a natural, maintenance-free finish.
"This helps out with the environment," said Tyner. "We won't have to use paint and then repaint it every few years."
Tyner recently spotted an identical bridge in Charlotte. "It was beautiful," she said. UNCP will have to wait about six months to see the final effects of its bridge's natural oxidation process.
Junior Janice Dalton questions the necessity of a water feature, but she knows it will enhance the campus. "I'll bathe myself in it," she joked.
Most students are aware of the possibilities for abuse of the water feature. Among the ideas circulating on campus are:
- fraternity/sorority pledging ground,
- giant bubble bath,
- model boat raceway,
- snake and/or alligator pit,
- swimming pool,
- watering hole for birds migrating south and
- wet t-shirt contest arena.
Sophomores Brad Verhaeghe and Andy Smith both approach the pond with skepticism.
"I like the pond better than the new signs," said Verhaeghe, referring to another facet of UNCP's beautification project. The former wooden signs outside campus buildings have been replaced with larger, black-and-gold aluminum ones.
"I think a tradition could get started at the pond," he said. "Like water-polo games."
Smith said he would check out the water feature when it is completed, but foresees the possibility of student pranks.
"People could bring inflatable rafts to the pond and lay out there," he said.
He has also heard of students at other schools dying their pond water different colors or dumping enormous amounts of Jell-o powder in it.
University Relations Director Don Gersh described how students at his alma mater of Penn State-Altoona, enjoyed their water feature. During freshman orientation, freshmen and sophomores would string a rope over the pond and play tug-of-war. "I would think that could happen here," he said. "It would be a great tradition."
Apparently unaware of the traditions at Penn State-Altoona, Chancellor Allen Meadors is excited that UNCP will join the 95 percent of American college campuses that have a water feature. "It will be a very nice addition, and something we will all appreciate," he said.
However, Meadors is aware that he might see bubbles overflowing from the new pond.
"I'm sure that from time to time, there will have to be some education," he suggested. "But it's close to the police station..."
Freshman Sarah Franken isn't waivering.
"I'm going swimming in it on Thursday nights," she said.
All joking aside, university officials have other plans for the pond.
Director of Student Activites Abdul Ghaffar confirmed speculation that the water feature will serve as an outdoor stage for future comedians, speakers and bands as early as next semester.
"There could be open 'mic' night too," he said. "It would also be a beautiful backdrop for Parent's Weekend and Pembroke Day."
Chair of the Music Department Dr. George Walter said there have been discussions about the possibility of bands performing at the new water feature. "I'll bring it up at our next department meeting to discuss the feasibility," he said.
The feature was filled with water on Nov. 30, and will be dedicated during Homecoming on Feb. 16.
With the onset of winter, it wouldn't be surprising to see students flocking to the pond and lacing up their ice skates...
Andrea Vukcevic is a junior and a journalism major at UNCP.