Texas A&M is making a few changes to the Bonfire Memorial to create a better experience for all visitors.
In order to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Texas A&M has closed the Bonfire Memorial and parking lot for renovation from Aug. 22 to Oct. 31.
According to a statement from the university, the changes will focus on the accessibility problems caused by the loose gravel on the pathways surrounding the statues.
“Maintenance will consist of current gravel removal, regrading of walkways and new gravel installation, along with a topical application of Klingstone, a water permeable product that binds materials together,” the statement said.
Molly Painter, marketing and communications specialist for the University Art Galleries, said using Klingstone will ensure the walkway’s stability.
“It’s sprayed on top of the rocks and then it hardens to almost like a plastic material so the gravel doesn’t move or shift,” Painter said. “It’s water permeable so that water can actually still drain to the ground.”
According to the statement, A&M chose the product for its ability to hold gravel in place without changing the appearance of the walkways, allowing the memorial’s overall design to be maintained.
“After consultation with Robert Shemwell of Overland Partners, Inc. in San Antonio, one of the original designers of the memorial, Texas A&M University settled on a solution that will maintain the original design,” the statement said.
Director of Disability Services Kristie Orr said the renovation is an important step in ensuring that no one is excluded from A&M’s history.
“We don’t want it to be a challenge for someone that’s using a wheelchair, pushing a stroller or someone with a walker,” Orr said. “It’s such an important part of our university and in the history of our university that we want to make sure it is accessible for anyone who wants to go visit the memorial—that there isn’t any kind of barrier.”
Orr said eliminating obstacles will allow for every visitor to experience the Bonfire Memorial as a member of the Aggie family.
“The Bonfire Memorial is all about the traditions at A&M and the traditions are what A&M is known for,” Orr said. “It makes people feel like they’re a part of the Aggie family and we want to make sure that everyone is included in those Aggie traditions.”
Painter said the changes will not only fulfill the needs of the disabled community, but it will also reduce the obstacles workers face when maintaining the memorial.
“It’s hard to get across rocks that move underneath you,” Painter said. “It's also hard for anytime grounds keepers or maintenance vehicles need to go out there. … I think it was a twofold reason. One was for accessibility for visitors and one was for maintenance vehicles.”