The much anticipated brick and marble walkways at Homewood might still be works in progress, but the rationale for their creation has already had a profound impact on the daily functioning of the campus.
Perhaps nowhere is this impact more apparent than in the area of shipping and receiving.
As part of the effort to reduce both traffic flow and delivery service presence at Homewood, two remodeled loading docks that will keep delivery trucks on the periphery of campus are nearing completion, micro vehicles poised to take the place of pickup trucks have been ordered, policy changes on how goods are received have been implemented, and a new head of receiving services has been hired.
Paul Beyer, director of the university's Purchasing Office, said the new master plan has significantly altered the way his office operates.
"Historically, there has been no centralized receiving on this campus. Each department or building gets direct delivery of its goods," Beyer said. "But now with the campus master plan, and the efforts to make the campus more pedestrian friendly, there are changes and restrictions to this delivery process that we are trying to implement."
To that end, since late March a Homewood receiving group has met biweekly to assess the procurement and delivery of goods and services used by campus offices and departments. The nine-person group has been charged with developing policies and procedures to facilitate the efficient delivery of goods and services that are compliant with the goals and objectives of the campus master plan.
A pivotal element of that plan has been the major expansion of the Jenkins/Mergenthaler and AMR II loading docks. Both these points are to become central receiving hubs for the campus. Some existing docks, including those in back of Mudd Hall and the MSE Library, will remain in operation.
The Jenkins/Mergenthaler dock, with a new ramp and two-truck capacity, will provide delivery service for Jenkins, Mergenthaler, Remsen and eventually Ames and Gilman halls. New shipping/receiving coordinator Neil Blackmon and two full-time clerks will be responsible for delivering goods from this point.
The new AMR II dock, with access from University Parkway and egress to Charles Street, will service mainly the three AMR student dormitories and the connected dining facilities. The new road was needed to prepare for the closing of Goodnow Drive--the road from University Parkway past the Milton S. Eisenhower Library to Charles Street--to daily traffic.
"I think this new facility in the back will be a great advantage, not only in terms of utility and functionality but for the aesthetic appearance of that area of the campus," said Beyer, chair of the Homewood receiving group. "In the old scheme of things, trucks would just drive up on the sidewalk in front of the dorms. Not only did that not look good, it is not the best way to run a business."
The two docks are scheduled to be completed by Aug. 25. Most goods delivered to these locations will be everyday items such as office, laboratory and cleaning supplies.
Small items will be taken by hand truck to appropriate departments or offices, while larger and bulk items likely will be delivered using the two new MicroVans from Metro Motors, which are small and light enough to not damage the new brick walkways.
Similarly, Homewood Security and the Office of Facilities Management have ordered small vehicles for their own use on campus, replacing the often-seen pickup trucks currently being operated.
There was discussion of purchasing alternative-fuel vehicles, including small electric carts, but Beyer said they did not have the hauling capacity of the gasoline-powered vehicles and could become a liability in the snow and rain.
"The MicroVans are fully enclosed and weatherproof," Beyer said. "We receive and deliver items such as live animals and chemicals, and I wanted a way to transport them that was both safe and secure."
Since May, the university's more than 900 vendors have been notified that deliveries made by vehicles greater than 20 feet in length must be scheduled 48 hours in advance and, whenever practicable, made between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m.
When the open space portion of the master plan is completed, designated spots will be made available for Federal Express and UPS trucks making routine deliveries to campus.
In general, driving and/or parking on sidewalks and grass are no longer permitted on campus. However, Beyer said, exceptions will be made for the delivery of oversized items pending advanced notice. An 800-pound laser being sent to Remsen Hall, for example, would have to be delivered directly. "There is no other real practical way to get something that big to the departments," Beyer said. "It is the routine everyday deliveries that we want to try and control and keep out of sight."
In the future, staff inside kiosks located at campus entrances will help control and direct incoming campus traffic.
Beyer said he understands that there will be a learning curve for both the university and vendors regarding these receiving changes. And, he added, construction work on the future Clark and Hodson halls also will put some wrinkles in the delivery system.
"For the immediate future, during intense construction projects, we are going to be doing a lot of impromptu deliveries and redirecting of traffic to get to these buildings," Beyer said.
The ideal delivery circulation system therefore, Beyer said, will have to wait until the dust settles.
For additional information regarding campus deliveries, contact Judy Zimmer in Purchasing Services at 410-516-8383.