News and Views from Facilities - April 2013

As Spring Quarter begins, it’s a good time to remind students and staff about activities they may see around campus, and also remind them about cooperation we need as activities move outside onto our beautiful grounds. In the spirit of spring and things getting green, this month’s newsletter provides a lot of information on our Outdoor Maintenance Shop.

As always, if you are interested in receiving these notes personally rather than through Western Today, please email us ( and we will place you on the distribution list.

-John Furman, Director of Facilities Management
-Rick Benner, Director of Facilities Development and Capital Budget

General Grounds Maintenance

The university uses a "zone" concept of maintenance with nine gardeners throughout the year, supplemented during the summer with teams of temporary student employees.

Within his or her zone, each gardener is responsible for:

  • Mowing
  • String trimming
  • Edging of the sidewalks and curbs
  • Weeding
  • Mulching of the shrub and flower beds
  • Pruning of the shrubs and trees
  • Daily litter cleanup in each of their respective areas.

A separate crew uses large riding mowers and assorted specialty mowers to mow the larger turf areas on campus. They also provide support with leaf clean up in the fall and major tree removal. When you see these hard working staff, please consider taking the time to compliment them on their work. They have a tremendous amount of pride in the appearance of their areas, and it’s nice to hear genuine appreciation from others who might enjoy the fruits of their labor!

Did you know about Western’s Tree Collection?

Western has a very large and diverse collection of trees on campus, many of which are rare or relatively fragile species which are carefully maintained by our dedicated outdoor maintenance staff. There is actually a Foundation Fund, the Myrl Beck Tree Fund – established by Geology Professor Emeritus Myrl Beck in 2008 to purchase new varieties of trees and/or replace trees on campus in support of a diverse tree collection for educational purposes. A listing of significant and interesting trees can be found online.

There is also a virtual tour of Western’s extensive tree collection available online at In the spirit of protecting those trees, I’d like to discourage the use of wires, hammocks, or other weight bearing equipment. Wire, cable, or rope wrapped around tree trunks without adequate padding to distribute the load will very often cause irreparable damage to the tree. Please remind people to care for our campus  if you see potentially damaging activities – even if those activities are not intentionally harmful!

Public Works Contracts - Fraser Hall Renovation

Demolition inside the 13,000 square foot facility is complete. The piles supporting the new elevator shaft were set during spring break, and the contractor is preparing to place the concrete for the elevator pit. Placement of structural steel started in the basement and will continue upward through the building core. Air ducts, fire sprinkler pipes, plumbing piping, and electrical conduit are being installed in all three lecture halls. Additional structural steel and concrete will be delivered during the next few weeks as the lobby area is put together.

Construction will continue through spring and summer quarters. Projected move-in date is scheduled for fall quarter.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact David Willett, Project Manager, at 360/650-6813, or, or visit the Facilities Development and Capital Budget website:

Storm Water Corner

"Only rain down the drain" – As has been mentioned in earlier Desk Notes, WWU has a secondary storm water permit in conjunction with the City of Bellingham (COB) with specific requirements to which we must adhere. One important component of that permit is that chlorinated water and human-caused turbid water is not allowed to go into our storm water system. Practically, what that means is that any pressure washing of building exteriors and some roofs must have a containment plan in place to prevent intrusion into the storm water system.

You might see water diverted into vegetated areas, you might see storm drains covered or dammed to prevent water from reaching the system, and we may also use filters to remove chlorine prior to reaching the storm drain.

In any case, these extra measures are intended to keep us compliant with EPA requirements and ensure we remain good stewards of our limited resources.