Brace yourselves: more construction is coming to UCCS, this time at the Recreation Center.
With the groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 5, the Rec Center expansion project will begin in earnest.
The $16.3 million expansion is funded by two separate student fees voted on in the past two years: an $80 Rec Center Fee passed in spring 2012 with a 53 percent margin and a $35 Wellness Center Fee passed in spring 2014 by a 63 percent yes vote.
The Rec Center, currently 54,000 square feet, will almost double in size, with the project adding 47,605 square feet, 11,608 of which will be devoted to the Student Wellness Center which will house both the Student Health Center and the Counseling Center.
Increased fitness space, added basketball courts and new locker rooms are among the planned additions.
The anticipated completion of the expansion is fall 2015.
Staging and Noticeable Changes
Now that the project is imminent, more specific plans have been developed.
First, the Student Outdoor Leadership Expedition office will move from their current location on the northwest edge of the building to where the front desk and rock climbing wall are currently. The front desk will move to the other side of the hall closer to the door.
Matt Gaden, assistant director for facilities and operations at the Rec Center, anticipates the S.O.L.E. office move will be completed by the end of this calendar year.
The gym storage room on the northwest side of the building will also be destroyed, and the equipment currently residing there will be relocated inside the gyms themselves, in other parts of the building and in trailers on site. The fire exits on the northwest side will then be reconfigured, and finally outside construction can begin.
Despite all these changes, Gaden does not see the project posing problems for Rec Center users.
“For the most part, folks coming in should be able to come in and do what they usually do without significant disruption,” said Gaden. “We shouldn’t have areas that are closed down for long periods of time.”
Gaden highlighted noise and “area specific” closures in the building and their associated temporary walls, sheeting and construction traffic as the main changes students will notice.
The time around spring break will see the most interruption as a hallway between the current and new structures will be created, and the current group fitness room will also be destroyed. Rec Center classes will then move to one of the gym courts for the rest of the semester.
Parking and Costs
The expansion necessitates the elimination of Lot 8, and parking for the Rec Center has switched to the Alpine Parking Garage. Part of the top floor, around 120 spaces according to Gaden, is allocated for visitor and Rec Center parking. The spots, however, are not Rec Center specific.
“It’s basically set up to run like Lot 8 was, where visitors can park there or, if you have the appropriate permit…any of those would be valid,” said Gaden.
Commuter “A” passes work in the garage, as well as an academic year resident parking pass.
Gaden said that the $16.3 million budget for the project has room for things that might go wrong like days with severe weather.
“Those things are accounted for as I understand it,” he said.
Power lines were buried and new asphalt was put down on the road over the summer, to-dos that Gaden said were the most disruptive.
“The effort was made to do all the things that were going to significantly disrupt travel on that road, we tried to get that done over the summer, so once classes started we have both vehicular and pedestrian access available up and down that corridor,” he said.
Despite these efforts, Gaden acknowledges that with the construction on that end of campus (finishing the Alpine Parking Garage, the Rec expansion and new Alpine apartments) it may pose a problem or two.
“This end of campus is going to be a little difficult to get in and out of,” said Gaden. “There’s going to be heavy equipment coming in and out, but there shouldn’t be any significant road closures, people will be able to get in and get through for the most part.”
Gaden attributed the timing of the start of construction to the finishing of the design phase.
“The life cycle of the project facilitated that it starts now,” Gaden said. “It really just coincides with the start of classes, the opening of the garage, and everything else going on at the same time.”
Due to the added space, Gaden anticipates the need for more staff, upping the number of operations staff (student employees that work at the front desk, on the fitness floor or for maintenance and set-up) from the current 40 to around 50 or 55 when construction is complete.
“We’re going to be so linear and spread out, it’s going to be more of a challenge to help keep eyes on all the areas we need to,” he said.
The current Rec Center was built in 2007, and seven years later construction on an expansion is beginning. Gaden acknowledged that despite the planning for both the current space and the expansion, it’s hard to tell if student growth will overcome the expansion.
“It should be, we’re designing it to be a facility that will last us well into the future,” said Gaden.
Gaden said that the hope is that if enrollment increased beyond the capabilities of the expanded Rec Center, further expansion wouldn’t require an additional fee.
Saunders Construction, the company that also completed the Rec Center expansions at Cu- Boulder and CSU-Fort Collins. The Rec Center will post updates on the expansion through social media, the Rec Center website and an email newsletter that students will be able to sign up for.