Whether it be the comfort of family and friends or the inevitable appearance of s’mores, bonfires are a staple outdoor activity for summer and fall.
Concordia College is building a fire pit on the lawn of the south of Old Main that is funded by and made for students. While supply chain delays have impacted construction, this outdoor space should be fully functional by mid-to-late October.
The fire pit is currently installed into the 24-foot concrete pad, but it must undergo safety testing before it can be used. Project specialist Brenda Jarolimek explains the coming additions, “They have to put a silica coat on top of the concrete to seal it and make it not so slippery, which will happen after the fire pit is installed.”
A limestone cap and stamped concrete are accent features included on the fire pit. There will be benches circling the pit with additional room for more chairs. The benches will be one of the final things installed because supply chain delays inhibited their arrival.
Despite minor setbacks, Dallas Fossum, director of facilities management, has high hopes for the fire pit, especially due to its location. The fire pit is strategically located in the center of campus, so it is not only accessible to most students, but remains close to the Knutson Campus Center.
“We made a very intentional effort to make it accessible to people in wheelchairs,” said senior Luke Lindhorst, student representative of the project.
While construction is quickly being completed, the idea of the fire pit took much longer to catch fire. Lindhorst started this project in the fall of last year and was not able to request funding for the project until late 2021 spring semester.
The project was funded through the SGA Wix site with a total of $23,000 coming from students. Although the cost of materials went slightly over, other departments on campus were able to aid in the costs. Facilities management helped with some concrete expenses.
Risk management helped with expenses for a security camera to ensure safety at the fire pit. Additionally, the Moorhead Fire Department was consulted and gave approval for the fire pit Lindhurst thanks director of risk management Roger Olson for facilitating the exchange.
Fossum emphasized that the fire pit “wouldn’t be any more dangerous than a gas grill at home.”
Denise and Neil Tift also donated funds for this project and received naming rights of a bench included at the fire pit.
The bench will commemorate Kevin Van Zante, who worked for Concordia College for over 25 years between 1979-2005 and died July 2020.
Director of advancement operations Rachel Clarke worked with the family for this project. After Rachel mentioned the opportunity to donate a bench, Denise, Kevin’s sister, realized it was a “good fit” to remember Van Zante because he “had a love of students and this campus.”
Although several departments on campus aided in this project, Lindhorst was the sole founder of this project after doing extensive research on safety and budgeting. Getting approval by the MN fire department and the president’s cabinet was the longest part of the project’s timeline.
When asked if all of this waiting has made him more patient, Lindhorst quickly replied, “No. I would say almost the opposite. It has taught me to just stick with it.”
Lindhorst analogized the project to pushing a heavy boulder up a hill: he had to overcome a slight uphill before the boulder could move quickly forward.
He encourages students who have ideas for improving campus to stick with them because “if you’re not motivated to get past those initial challenges, then I think they assume the project isn’t that important to you either. If you have an idea and if you can back it up with why, how and who’s paying for it, then you’ll get the support of the administration.”
Despite their aid in this project, Lindhorst wishes Concordia would prioritize student ideas more.
“Concordia does a good job hearing, but could do a better job listening. I’m only here for four years. Most of the staff members have been here for years or plan on being here for years to come. I am in a hurry. I want to get things done on campus, so I can see them,” Lindhorst urged.
The fire pit will have a grand opening in October. The Tifts plan to come to the grand opening and host a dedication.
A wonderful way to remember Kevin, he always had a friendly Hello and a warm smile.