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Facilities Workers Win Landscaping Award


Keeping Rose Hill looking its best is a year-round job for workers in the Department of Facilities Management.

With the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo for neighbors, Fordham’s 85-acre Rose Hill campus is situated amidst some of the most glittering greenery in the Bronx. Now the campus has been recognized in its own right, with a Grand Green Star Award from the Professional Grounds Management Society.

The award, which was announced on Oct. 27 at the Green Industry and Equipment Expo in Louisville, Ky., was in the urban university category. Marco A. Valera, vice president for facilities management, said it was the first time in 13 years that the University had won such an award. In 1997, the International Arborists Association lauded Fordham for its preservation of the endangered American elm.

Valera said that an ongoing plan to beautify Rose Hill with trees, improved landscaping and added shrubbery and flower beds reached its apex this year, so his department decided to enter the contest.

“It’s one of the elements that consistently comes up when parents and students visit,” he said. “They’re so impressed by the appearance of the campus and the feeling of comfort it gives them. That really complements our strengths in academia.”

In addition to pictures of the campus throughout the year, Fordham’s entry had to include shots of the grounds crew at work and examples of the challenges they face in keeping everything beautiful.

“We are in an urban environment; we face a lot of utilization for events—particularly exterior events,” Valera said. “Commencement is obviously the largest one, but through the year, we have various things going on—such as Homecoming, football games and so on—which are detrimental to the landscape. When it gets destroyed, we put it back together.”

In addition to flower beds at the main University entrance, near the University Church, around the McGinley Center and in the space between the Administration Building, Dealy Hall and Hughes Hall, Valera noted that an outside arborist inspects nearly all of the nearly 500 trees on campus four times a year. With a collection of trees that date as far back as 270 years, tree care is constant.

Elm trees on campus, for instance, are inoculated twice every two years to protect against Dutch elm disease, and maples have to be inspected for insects including the Chinese maple borer. Of course, trees are susceptible to man-made events like construction projects and natural events such as hurricanes.

Last fall, for instance, a storm uprooted and destabilized a dozen large trees next to Loyola Hall.

“We thought, ‘We don’t want to leave the area like this,’ and we had trees that were growing at another location at Thebaud Hall,” Valera said. “So we transplanted them and saved them. The problem with the Thebaud trees was that they were planted in an area where concrete is underneath them, because the boiler plant is there. They had outgrown their location and we would probably at some point had to have taken them down, but we were able to reuse them.”


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