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News & Stories: 2008-09

A median improvement August 11, 2008

On any given highway median, there may be a sign or two, guardrails and patches of unkempt grass.

photo of student watering treesAs of August 11, 2008, that limited description will no longer fit the median, the stretch of turf running down the middle of the East Beltine (M-37), a highway that separates the two sides of Calvin’s campus.

The effort to make over the median is being spearheaded by supervisor of landscape operations Bob Speelman. It is the first of several landscaping installments on the stretch of M-37 median between the west and east sides of the Calvin campus. This first 600-foot-long, 24-foot-wide section runs between the college's Fine Arts Center and DeVos Communication Center.

The beauty business

Speelman is in the business of beautifying the campus, and he seized the opportunity to improve the strip. “Calvin has property on both sides, which is unique,” he said.

The vision was there, but the right to implement it, was not, he explained. The land is state owned, but maintained by the county. Speelman and associate director of grounds Charlie Huizinga hired Twin Lakes Nursery, Inc. to design the landscaping for the median and submitted the proposed plan to the state government. Eleven months later, the project was given the green light.  

Shrubs, perennials and trees, oh my!

Speaking of green, the median will accommodate trees, shrubs and perennials. Some of the vegetation includes hawthorn, large junipers, Summersweet and over 2,000 daffodils.  

The undertaking of this project did present some challenges. Access to the median is challenging for student workers and physical plant staff. Also, Speelman said that they needed to select plants that were self-sustaining and could withstand winter winds. Landscape design was also pivotal: “It is a landscape seen at 55 miles per hour,” commented Speelman. Although seen at swift speeds, Speelman said, “It will be the best, most interesting landscape on M-37. People will know they are in Calvin’s property.”

~by Katie Landan, communications and marketing

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