New Rome pedestrian trail may save lives, says Rome director

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Photo courtesy of Isabela King

A new pedestrian walkway at University of Dallas’ Due Santi campus awaited the fall 2019 class, and Dr. Peter Hatlie, Rome Program Director, said it will be a “lifesaver” in an interview with the University News.

Completed in April 2019, the gate pens next to a vineyard that UD owns and leads to the Via dei Ceraseti. Instead of jutting down a narrow two-way road, students now can cross vertically to get to and from the Cotral station that leads to Rome or Albano Laziale. 

Students have been using the path “sporadically,” Hatlie said. But it’s availability is crucial, he added.

“We really think it’s a lifesaver, seriously,” he said. 

The path comes as a result of a generous gift to the university.

“Rick and Patty Stark gave [the UD Rome campus] a donation in 2017 to buy the property of ‘Hatlie Hill’ for the purposes it serves now — a safe gateway in and off campus for students,” Hatlie wrote in a follow-up email.

Before the pathway existed, students, faculty and others had to traverse a dangerous and narrow path along the Via dei Ceraseti.

“I’ve been in a situation where I’ve had to jump the guardrail,” Hatlie said concerning the Via dei Ceraseti. 

Getting the land for the pathway was complicated.

“I spent two years negotiating the purchase of the land, and it took about 16 months to (a) get it properly surveyed, (b) negotiate with neighbors as to new lot lines, (c) level the land, (d) secure it with fences on the Via dei Ceraseti and service roadside, (e) plant the new vineyard up there, and (f) put in the sidewalk and lighting,” Hatlie wrote. 

The current fall class has not been using the new gate as often, according to Hatlie. He suspects this is because when the fall class “first arrived there was no traffic on the Via dei Ceraseti.” 

Hatlie suggested the road may present “an optical illusion.”

“Maybe they think it’s shorter.” 

Ben Gibbs, director of student affairs at the Rome campus, adds that the walkway has additional benefits. 

“Since I’ve been here, we haven’t had any incidents of students getting hurt on the Ceraseti, but we’ve had some close calls,” said Gibbs. 

“There have been incidents in the past,” Gibbs said. “More recently, we had an incident where somebody that was not supposed to be on campus somehow made their way onto campus. So building a new pedestrian gate, lighting it, making it very clear that area even though it’s closer to vineyard is private property and not accessible to anyone who is not invited onto campus. It was a good step for us to take in part because we don’t want anybody on campus that we do not know about and isn’t allowed to be on campus.” 

“The only thing that is missing, and I hope will be put in by [the time students go to] Greece, is a surveillance camera,” Hatlie said. 

“It will save a life, I’m sure,” Hatlie wrote. “We’re just really fortunate to be able to have this access point in order to protect our students.” 

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