– Construction of new recreational center began in December 2013 and continues today. –

PHOTO: Geese swim in the pond next to where the new Rec Center is going up. Photo by Lori Dresner for The Current 2014 ©

 

By Daniel C. Hodges, Staff Writer for The Current

The University of Missouri–St. Louis’ new Wellness/Recreation Center is still on schedule to open during the Fall 2015 semester.

Resurrecting a 2004 proposal in 2010, the Student Government Association surveyed students on interest in a new recreation center.  This led to a March 2012 campus-wide referendum where 64.37% of students (from a ballot pool of 1,543) approved of the new facility.  Construction began in December 2013 and continues today.

Effective fiscal year 2016, a new $19.25 per-credit-hour fee (up to a maximum of 12 credit hours per semester, or six credit hours in the Summer) will be rolled into the tuition to pay for the Recreation Center.  The new fee and non-student memberships to the Center are the sole sources of funding for the new building because facilities such as the Millennium Student Center and the Wellness/Recreation Center cannot be funded with state money.  These fees were presented to students as part of the 2012 referendum.  Regarding when the construction would be paid off, UMSL Chancellor Thomas F. George told The Current, “The construction is being paid for by issuance of long-term bonds. The bonds will be paid off over thirty years.”

The Recreation Center, situated across the quad from the MSC, occupies some space previously devoted to about 375 parking spots in lots C and D.  Seventy-five new spaces will be constructed adjacent to the new building.  Despite a net loss of parking, and the potential for increased visitation due to the attraction, administration sources do not expect a strain on the remaining parking available due to sufficient unused capacity in the Grobman Drive parking garages.  On the subject, Chancellor George said, “We do not expect the Rec Center to significantly affect traffic or parking.”  No additional parking structures or lots are planned for the future, though the Chancellor noted that more parking will be available “when the Science Learning Building is completed.”

Because the Recreation Center is being built at student request, so too are the amenities included.  According to the Recreation Center website (checktherec.umsl.edu), the 99,000 square-foot building will feature a three-lane jogging track, three-court gymnasium, four group fitness rooms, a climbing wall, an indoor pool (with lap lanes, zip line, and aquatic climbing wall), whirlpool, pro shop, and juice bar.  Thus far, none of these amenities have been affected or lost to construction, nor does Chancellor George foresee such happening.

Use of the Recreation Center will be free for all current students (with their Triton ID card).  Faculty, staff, and alumni will have to pay a membership fee commiserate with local gyms and fitness centers; a more definite pricing plan should be available late this semester.  The Center will also provide employment opportunities for students.

On the subject of fitness and wellness classes being held at the Recreation Center, Chancellor George said, “The size and space availability in the new facility will provide the opportunity for a robust class schedule, double to triple what we are currently able to offer.  Many classes will be free; some classes that require significant instructional expertise, or advanced skill may have a fee.”

© The Current 2014