Ugly and unsafe

Mal Hartigan

“The yard in front of the building literally looks as if a murderer dug a giant trench to bury a body and carelessly threw the dirt back on top.”

Usually, when braving the cold winter, it’s difficult to notice the appeal of our campus. During the fall semester, however, it seems impossible to overlook the ginkgo trees creating a beautiful overhang when strolling on the sidewalk toward Haag Hall and the attractive landscapes dispersed throughout the rest of campus. The architecture is also far more inspiring than that of my hometown’s university, Missouri Western. Buildings seen in the quad and even the unused Epperson House are all aesthetically charming.

Yet, if you take a stroll around campus toward the UMKC houses located on streets such as Charlotte and Holmes, the appealing appearances quickly dwindle away.

I’ve worked at The University News for two semesters. The office building is located on Holmes Street. Various problems tend to rise monthly – sometimes even weekly – with the quaint little news house in which our staff spends Sundays editing the paper. Since we have keys to the building, some staff members (including me) choose the U-News house as an ideal study location. The house is usually empty and quiet and it’s easier to focus without distraction. But unfortunately, upon approaching and even entering the building, its physical appearance becomes distraction enough.

Most homeowners can understand that houses tend to depreciate unless they are well-maintained. If you frequent Home Depot, you’ll see plenty of families purchasing supplies in order to ensure their home remains stable. It is questionable whether or not the U-News house is legitimately maintained. This is not to say that I’m complaining about the fact that the building UMKC allows us to occupy isn’t “good enough,” but there are some outright issues that need fixing.

For starters, as I walk up the stairs to the front door, it’s impossible to avoid noticing the front lawn. The yard in front of the building literally looks as if a murderer dug a giant trench to bury a body and carelessly threw the dirt back on top. The lawn is an eyesore to avoid at all possible costs. I haven’t inquired how it obtained such a grotesque appearance, but the yard was dug up nearly two months ago without any sign or promise of a solution. One would think that having such an unattractive mess in the front yard would reflect poorly on UMKC; it is their property, after all. The issue has yet to be resolved and will likely remain that way until someone has the time (or remembers) to remedy the issue.

Sometimes on Sundays, I would also go onto the second-floor balcony to have a smoke. The balcony overlooks the horrendous front lawn and the rest of Holmes Street. I quit doing this because of the condition of the balcony. Made of once-sturdy wooden planks, it has begun to sag and tilt, giving the impression that it could collapse at any moment. This is concerning because it’s clear to anyone who stands on the balcony that it may be considered unstable, but I have not received a notification from anyone on the U-News staff or anyone affiliated with UMKC that the balcony is unstable and should be blocked off. Needless to say, I smoke on the front steps now.

The building also has a very slight tilt to it as well, which has occurred from the shifting foundation. The U-News house is very old. Oftentimes, old houses are to be coveted. They hold a lot of history, typically have wooden floors, and nostalgic creaking steps. This is not the case with our building because it has been poorly maintained. The shifting foundation has caused problems inside the house, as well. Upstairs, the doors to our Editor-In-Chief’s office are hard to open or get stuck.

Let me be clear: I am grateful for the building UMKC allows us to have. I love having a private edifice for staff members where we collaborate and produce our independent student newspaper. I appreciate how beautiful Holmes Street is and the wonderfully paved parking lot in which we’re allowed to park our vehicles. There are even adorable gardens around the sidewalk leading to building.

I am not asking for a mansion to work in; that would be highly unnecessary. Observing our building just leads me to question how much pride UMKC takes in all of their structures, or if they need more funds to fix and properly maintain them.

[email protected]