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South Oval set to reopen in fall 2013

Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor

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Ohio State students can expect to return to a grassy South Oval this fall.
Lynn Readey, associate vice president for Facilities Operations and Development in OSU’s Office of Administration and Planning, confirmed the completion of the drilling on the geothermal well project, a part of the $170.4 million South Campus High Rise Renovation, during a Finance Committee meeting Thursday.
The geothermal wells were being installed to improve the heating and cooling system for South Campus dorms.
Construction began in November 2010 and was delayed in November 2011 when OSU released Chesapeake Geosystems, Inc., from its contractual obligations with the university because of ineffective drilling methods, pushing the date of completion back more than a year from September 2012 to October 2013.
Project manager Scott Conlon said in 2011 that Chesapeake’s method of drilling did not work well with “the underlying geologic condition” of the South Oval.
Readey anticipates the project will be done before October.
“We’re pushing to have it returned to student use by the fall,” she said.  
Readey said 264 vertical wells have been completed on the South Oval. According to Lantern archives, 120 wells of a planned 258 had been completed in August.
Readey said during the meeting that the horizontal connection of the wells is still an ongoing process and once completed, the university will begin the reclamation process, restoring the South Oval to an open area for students to throw Frisbees, play catch or work on their tans.
First- and second-year students have never seen the South Oval without ongoing construction, and some said they are excited for the outcome of the project.
“I’ll be glad to see it in all of its glory,” said Emily Moore, a second-year in international studies.
Moore attended a Skrillex and Mac Miller concert held on the South Oval last May and said it was “definitely a little cramped,” since only a portion of the area was available for the event.
She said she is looking forward to attending more concerts and events on the South Oval in the future.
Abby Hoovler, a second-year in industrial and systems engineering, said she is also excited to have more places to spend time outdoors.
“It’ll be nice to have that space,” Hoovler said. “All we really have right now is the Oval, everything else is pretty much buildings.”
Some third-year students said they are also excited, as they are the only class that will see a “before and after” of the South Oval.
“It’s been a muddy mess for the last two years,” said Shaun Laubis, a third-year in logistics management. “I’ll be excited to finally see it again.”
Although fourth-year students had full access to the South Oval throughout their first full year at OSU, many, such as Greg Hopkins, a fourth-year in city and regional planning, will not be around in the fall to see the final product.
“It was my favorite place freshman year, so it sucks for (the freshmen) that it’s been out of commission for so long,” Hopkins said. “I do wish I could be around to see it as a student again.”
The $10.3 million well project is expected to pay for itself in roughly a decade, according to Lantern archives, but OSU’s Chief Financial Officer Geoff Chatas told The Lantern in 2011 that after the budget would be around $12 million after problems.
The wells are expected to save the university about $140,000 in energy costs and $70,000 in maintenance costs per year, according to Lantern archives.

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