Will UNF ever see a return of the Arena Walkway?

Nathan Turoff, Features Editor

To any student who started attending UNF in the past five years, they would have never known that there was once an elevated Arena Walkway connecting the Arena to the Arena Garage, safely above traffic. There indeed was one and, due to unforeseen circumstances, it was damaged and demolished thereafter. But why was this the case, and will future students ever see it return?

The short answer is no.

The UNF Arena, the Arena Parking garage across the street, and the elevated pathway connecting the two were built in 1993. For over twenty years it connected the Arena with its primary method of parking. That was until the summer of 2015, when a truck collided with it after making a delivery. One year later, it was torn down

The driver of the Waste Management truck failed to lower the bed of the truck after a delivery. Photo by Michael Herrera

Spinnaker reached out to John Hale, who is currently the Associate Vice President of the Department of Administration and Finance. Hale was employed as the Assistant Vice President of Physical Facilities at the time of the incident and subsequent removal. 

“I remember when I got the notice that someone called that it had been hit,” he said.

The collision obviously closed down the road, but it was open again within a week. Hale explained that this quick and easy clean-up was facilitated by the fact that the adjacent former Aquatics Center was in the process of being converted into the Field House at the time of the collision. They were fortunate to be able to easily use those resources to clean up the mess from the impact.

The former Arena Walkway after the collision, with the road temporarily blocked off. Photo by Mark Judson

He explained that they received insurance money from the company that owned the truck, and they were left with two feasible options: keeping it or removing it as a chance to improve the aesthetics of the area.

“We certainly could have repaired it.”

According to Hale, the architecture was very outdated, and most students were crossing the street below anyway, so the decision was made to remove it entirely. Hale was certain that it would never come back, as the surrounding area looked better without it, and he was confident that adding the blinking lights to the street crossings vastly improved pedestrian safety.

The Walkway itself after the collision. Photo by Mark Judson

Hale did express belief that without the collision, the removal of the walkway would not have happened anytime soon, as they had other priorities.

But there is still a legacy left behind by the former walkway. It is still featured on the official UNF Interactive Campus Map. This digital resource predates the incident according to Hale, but has since grown “stale” as it doesn’t account for many other newer features of UNF, such as the new pool complex, the enhancements to Candy Cane Lake, the extension of Osprey Ridge Road, and more. This inaccuracy is likely to worsen as more changes are made to UNF, if the Master Plan is any indication.

Screenshot of UNF’s digital map, still showing the former walkway connecting the Arena and its namesake garage.

Spinnaker reached out to UNF Marketing and Publications, managers of the digital map, who gave this statement.

“Updates on a number of changes and campus improvements are currently being made on the digital map, and we will continue to review and modify the map as needed.”

The UNF Seal and plaque, that can be currently found outside the library. photo by Nathan Turoff

Another way, and this one more permanent, is actually found at the library. The famous Great Seal outside of the library, shown above, was actually part of the walkway, before being relocated to its current location. 

The walkway may be gone and never return, but its legacy will not be forgotten.

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