Apr 132009
Authors: Madeline Novey

After preliminary construction on the Student Recreation Center additions began Monday, students will still have access to all classes and amenities throughout the construction process.

The current phase of construction on the facility is slotted for completion in January 2010, a recreation official said, and interior renovation and new construction –/which includes the addition of a climbing and bouldering wall, multi-activity courts and upgraded spa areas — is underway.

“Aside from the obvious request from students for more activity and exercise space, we want to provide students that might not want to come over and use the weights and courts more amenities,” said Judy Muenchow, the executive director for Campus Recreation.

While fencing surrounding the site is the only indication that construction has started, Muenchow said that students could expect 75 percent of the existing facility to undergo renovations and should watch for additions to all sides of the current 61,435-square-foot facility.

The building’s foundation will be laid early next week, said Lou Ross, the superintendent of Saunders Construction Inc. Saunders was contracted to build the Indoor Practice Facility, renovations and additions to the Student Recreation Center and the Athletics Academic Training Facility.

The overall construction plan calls for the improvement and expansion of between 6.5 to 8.5 acres of land situated to the north of the current Recreation Center, along Meridian Avenue and West Plum Street.

A climbing tower, bouldering wall and cave will find a home in the Recreation Center as part of a set of center upgrades. Both were demanded by students, as determined by student surveys conducted from 2001 to 2009.

The top of the climbing wall, which was designed by Boulder-based climbing company Eldorado, was crafted to mimic the top of Horsetooth rock.

“It’s about bringing the outside into (the) CSU campus,” Muenchow said.

Following an increase in the user population between 2001 and the 2009 academic year and a clear demand from students, Muenchow said, the cardio and weight section will be moved into its own two-story, glass center located on the southwest side of the main recreation building.

Other amenities and features will include:

A multi-activity court with rounded walls for basketball, volleyball and soccer

An expanded lobby

Possibly a juice bar — if expenses allow.

The entirety of the $32.2 million project was funded by student fees as approved in 2008 by the Student Fee Review Board — the student government entity that approves the allocation of about $31 million in student fees annually before the CSU System Board of Governors.

Because the Recreation Center is the most heavily utilized student service on campus, both Muenchow and construction officials agreed the renovations and new construction are necessary.

“There’s been such an increase,” said Director of Facilities Management Brian Chase, referring to the user increase the facility has seen over the years. “It’s the most heavily used student service on campus. They expanded to accommodate the increased demand . they do a really good job over there and that justifies an expanded facility.”

On average, 4,000 people use the Student Rec Center each day and more than half a million visit in a year. Muenchow said that currently, overall use has leveled out because the facility is too small for demand.

The expanded facility was designed to accommodate 30,000 to 32,000 total students, solving the issue of accessibility Muenchow said.

Students differed in their opinions of the necessity and validity of the project.

“I don’t really think it’s a (good investment),” said freshman communications major Ashley Cowan. “I don’t care for it much . it isn’t necessary and the money would be better put toward renovations only.”

Others agreed saying they thought the money could have benefited other areas on campus.

“It’s hard to say,” if the construction and additions are necessary, sophomore zoology major Christine Fronterotta said. “I think it is . but on the other side I think a lot of those fees could have gone to academic purchases.”

The new facility is scheduled to host a groundbreaking ceremony on May 6 and will celebrate its grand opening by August 2010.

Assistant News Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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