South Hall was built in the late '60s to house female students for the college, which had just officially become coed. An unintended consequence of that work was the periodic flooding of the parking lot between the new hall and Locust Street. In fact, sometimes after a heavy rain, the lot and street were knee-deep in water, earning it an infamous nickname: "Lake Ambrose."
Not much changed for 30-some years, except that the building was renamed Cosgrove Hall in 1990, and the ephemeral body of water became known as "Lake Cosgrove."
Over the summer, however, the lot shed its moniker for good. SAU's physical plant executed a massive, $1.85 million improvement project, funded by the university, the City of Davenport, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Retention pipes installed under the Cosgrove parking lot now capture more than a million gallons of storm water. During an extreme weather event – such as a rain in excess of one-inch per hour – water travels through an underground overflow pipe running between Cosgrove and Ambrose Halls, into a new plunge pool, and gradually disperses into a swale between Rohlmann and Hayes Halls.
"Instead of flooding occurring over the street and the parking lot, now it will ‘flood' underground," said Physical Plant Director Jim Hannon '84.
The university's plan to alleviate flooding had been in the works for more than 10 years. When it came time to get down to business, there was no time to waste. As soon as students left in mid-May, workers and engineers began preparing the land: breaking up concrete, removing some trees and digging a gigantic hole to install retention pipes. For the next 13 weeks, Physical Plant staffers dedicated themselves to this project.
Addressing a decades-long problem – even though it meant saying good-bye to the nostalgia of Lake Cosgrove – further emphasizes St. Ambrose's commitment to environmental stewardship.