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Sep 20, 2021 | Education, In The News

Cal State Fullerton honored local and state officials who supported the recent state budget allocation of $2 million for the university’s proposed pedestrian bridge project and the Fullerton Arboretum on Friday.

The self-supporting Fullerton Arboretum will receive $1 million to cover monetary loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, help continue operations and focus on future projects.

The other $1 million will fund the proposed Titan Gateway Pedestrian Bridge, which will allow the campus community to cross over Nutwood Avenue, connecting the main campus to CSUF’s College Park building.The morning began with a small celebration where Assemblyman Phillip Chen commemorated the state allocation with a $1 million check presented to CSUF President Fram Virjee in front of Langsdorf Hall.

Chen said the million-dollar allocation from the State General fund is specifically for the Titan Gateway. As a CSUF alumnus, Chen added that although CSUF is not in his district, many students are constituents in his district, and it was great to return and continue to invest in the students.

The proposed bridge aims to improve traffic on Nutwood Avenue where approximately 22,000 to 26,000 vehicles travel every week.

“There’s students that have classes at College Park and one of the things for me, I know keeps President Virjee up at night is students crossing this major thoroughfare where there’s so much traffic, whether it’s on bike or walking across, and you never know at any given moment something unfortunate might happen,” Chen said.

As one of the busiest intersections in Orange County, Nutwood Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue saw 186 traffic vehicle stops and 115 citations issued as of March 2020.Chen said the gateway bridge is not only something that may save lives, but it will also improve the environment due to not having to drive a car across campus but instead having access to walk across the Titan Gateway.

The $1 million will serve as a down payment for a project estimated to cost $10 million, Chen added.

In a university press release, Virjee thanked the state and local officials who supported the funding of the proposed bridge.”Critical to the funding for the pedestrian bridge was State Assembly Member Phillip Chen and State Senator Josh Newman, who requested and advocated on the behalf of the university. Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon was critical to securing the funding,” Virjee said.

The celebration continued at the Fullerton Arboretum’s Bacon Pavillion where those in support of the 26-acre botanical garden gathered for a celebration of the $1 million funding.

The arboretum staff was joined by Virjee, his wife Julie Virjee, State Senator Josh Newman, Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, California Congresswoman Young Kim, Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker and council member Jesus Silva, among others in support of the gardens.

Having lost more than $848,240 during its closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the funding arrived at an opportune time for the Fullerton Arboretum. The arboretum reopened its doors to the public on July 7, providing opportunities to continue with ongoing sustainability and educational projects that will help preserve the garden.Greg Dyment, the arboretum’s director, said that as funds were used to cover the garden’s operations during its closure, a significant backlog of special projects remain throughout the gardens. Until revenue streams can be rebuilt, the arboretum will require additional funds to help cover daily expenses and improvements for the facility and its living collections, Dyment said.

“They lost revenue stream for membership and faculty, from facility rentals, from fundraisers,” Virjee said. “They had to lay off people or furlough people. It was hard times.” During that time, Virjee said they turned to their state legislature and asked for help. Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, State Assembly Member Tom Daly and Rendon stepped up to make sure the university received the requested funding for the arboretum, Virjee said.

The funding will help the arboretum begin its planned rehabilitation, signage and repair projects. Such projects include rehabilitating the aging lake stream system, completing the “Friends Outdoor Terrace” at the Bacon Pavilion, updating the current educational interpretive signage that is over 30 years old and repairing the historical Heritage House roof and chimney to help maintain the historic building for years to come.

“We were actually able to secure the necessary funding so we can reopen this place as the community gathering place that it is, not only for Cal State Fullerton, not just for the city of Fullerton, but for the whole surrounding community,” Virjee sai

The Daily Titan

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