What are they thinking?

I recently got nailed with a whopper of a double take, the sudden, wrenching kind that jeopardizes the cervical vertebrae. It occurred when I read of the University of Nevada, Reno’s plans to bulldoze the Fleischmann Planetarium and its surrounding forest to make way for a desperately needed—parking lot!? My neck problems intensified as I read that the sudden, irrevocable timetable for this bit of villainy is set for June 2003.

Why would UNR do this? It’s not like the campus is blessed with an abundance of pretty places, especially north of the quad, which is a region best described as a blend of hodgepodge and potpourri, haphazardly mixed together to create an overall impression of architectural chaos. After reading of the decision to flatten the pleasant little Space Place and its invaluable grove of trees, I couldn’t help but ask, what are these eight balls thinking?

One imagines the meeting of the University Big Shots (UBS) who made this decision:

UBS No. 1: …so if the football team and the basketball team are now being called “Nevada” by the announcers, does that mean the school is now “N,” as opposed to “UNR?”

UBS No. 2: Yes. I believe that could well be the case.

UBS No. 1: Well, okey-dokey.

UBS No. 4: Yes. Well, now, with that settled, we can move on to the problem of the trees.

UBS No. 2: Which trees would those be?

UBS No. 4: You know, the blasted trees surrounding that wavy potato chip building.

UBS No. 2: Oh, you mean that incessantly verdant little spot with that Space Place that so mars the view of the Little Wall!

UBS No. 4: That’s it. Anyway, I’ve been thinking, we should kill the trees and flatten the curvy building.

UBS 1, 2, 3 and 5: Hurrah! Hurrah!

UBS-5: What shall we build in its place, once everything is killed, dozed, smashed into little pieces and hauled off to the landfill?

UBS No. 4: Oh, that’s a no-brainer. An absolutely epic new parking garage, of course.

UBS No. 3: Of course!

UBS No. 2: I’d like to make it—tan! No, no—gray!

I don’t want to sound like the biggest tree-hugger since Tarzan, but it’s just an eentsy weentsy bit disappointing that the Powers That Be at UNR didn’t appear to expend even one stinking calorie to find another plot of land in its considerable real estate portfolio upon which to erect another stinking parking lot before condemning one of the nicest and most serene little havens in its domain to Death by Dozer. This is the University we’re talking about, a place we look to for progressive thinking that can cope with intelligence and grace when it comes to dealing with its dilemmas. I would humbly suggest that this incredibly ham-fisted approach to some lame parking problem is one that could have just as easily been hatched by a blue chip committee of winos, wastrels and thieves.