Redevelopment of Samford Park at Toomer’s Corner begins

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Barricades and fences now surround Toomer's corner and Samford park in Auburn.

Wednesday, April 2 marked the beginning of Phase I of the redevelopment and enhancement of the area, nearly three and a half years after the Toomer's Oaks were poisoned.

"When I came to Auburn I got to experience one year of the trees before they were gone," says Auburn student Franie Davis. "It definitely broke a lot of hearts in Auburn, but you can't keep the Auburn spirit down. I think it's great they are redeveloping the corner and giving something to look forward to."

Crews began installing fencing around the perimeter of the worksite this morning, closing a number of sidewalks in Samford Park as well as crosswalks at the corner of West Magnolia Avenue and South College Street.

Work Wednesday and Thursday is in preparation for the tree stumps to be removed and the soil remediation process to start next week.

"There is still poison in the soil in certain places," explains Mike Clardy, AU Director of Communications. "The idea is to dig three feet down all over the corner. We're going to dig six feet down where the trees are to make sure we have everything out."

Phase I also includes new pavers, a circular seating wall, and the installation of two new trees early next year.

At times during construction, the right-hand, southbound lane on South College Street will be temporarily closed to accommodate construction traffic. Motorists are urged to use caution when traveling near the work site.

"This is a very difficult process to get the soil excavated," says Clardy. "We've got utilities, the wall, the road to work with so it is a difficult process to get everything taken care of, so it may involve closing the roadway for a short period of time."

Even though this process may inconvenience students and visitors for months, they all agree the end result is well worth the wait.

"I've got a class in Biggin Hall right here behind me, but I'm definitely looking forward to the trees coming back so I can go a little bit out of my way," explains AU student Michael Knotts.

"It might take a while, but that ok because just adapt," says Davis. "So I'm really excited to get bigger structures and get back to the corner."

Starting Thursday Toomer's Corner and parts of Samford Park will be completely blocked off for pedestrians.

This part of the construction is expected to be completed in August and will reopen in time for the 2014 fall semester.

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