May 062009
 
Authors: Scott Callahan

Student leaders Taylor Smoot, Quinn Girrens and Amber Frickey plunged their shiny, spade-shaped shovelheads into the piled dirt lying in front of metal construction equipment outside the walls of the CSU Recreation Center Wednesday.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the additions to the Recreation Center was the symbolic start of construction on the facility, which began in earnest last month.

“This is only going to enhance what we already have,” Blanche Hughes, the vice president for student affairs, said in her speech at the ceremony. “So we know what students really like: exercise, a little pampering and food.”

The Rec. Center averages 4,000 users daily, and that number has steadily increased since students in the 2002-2003 school year conceived of the renovation idea. From that point the school started surveying student interests, planning and budgeting for the improvements, Judy Muenchow, the executive director for campus recreation, said.

Because of the early planning and budgeting, she said the current economic issues were not much of a factor.

The construction will add 60,000 square feet to the already 105,000 square-foot building. The project is estimated to cost $32.2 million dollars and is funded entirely by student fees.

Right now students are paying $25 per student, per semester of mandatory fees to fund the project, and the fees will increase to $35 in 2010, so students who will use the improvements are paying more.

The most requested additions to the Rec. Center are a multi-activity court, indoor rock climbing tower and bouldering wall, and increased space for the cardio-weight area, Muenchow said. The new additions will also include a food bar as well as expanded and improved spa areas.

The new facility is being constructed in line with the CSU’s “green” theme. In her speech, Hughes said the Rec. Center will actually reduce the campus’ carbon footprint, and will feature new lighting and plumbing; it will also reuse 75 percent of existing walls, floors and roof material.

According to multiple surveys by the Rec. Center and Associated Students of CSU, students approve of the new construction to help reduce overcrowding during peak hours.

“I think (the construction) is great,” said Chelsea Amos, a junior sports medicine major. “The Rec. Center gets overcrowded in the afternoons . this is good because of the possibility that people don’t workout because it is so overcrowded.”

Though most students utilize the Rec. Center, the most vocal opposition to the additions came from students who don’t, Muenchow said. Opponents’ main arguments were that their student fees could be used to improve academics.

Jessie Smith, an agriculture business major who said she rarely uses the Rec. Center, said she would rather see the money in other areas on campus.

“I don’t use the Rec. Center that much, so it wouldn’t benefit me . it’s like the new parking lot that I’m not going to be able to use,” she said.

Freshman undeclared major Victor Lelm said, although he prefers less-expensive outdoor alternatives for living an active lifestyle, he does not mind the new construction.

“It would be better if people played outside. You don’t need million-dollar machines to play games,” said Lelm. “If the university sees a need for it and the university does it, and if you decide to come here (to CSU), then you have to support it.”

Staff writer Scott Callahan can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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