Feb. 29, 2016
Despite delays ranging from bad contractors to torrential rains, students finally have access to the latest campus construction improvement: The Recreation and Wellness Center.
The expansion doubled the size of the Rec Center and is the new home of both the Student Health and Counseling Centers; both are now integrated into one Wellness Center.
The gymnasium, fitness centers, fitness floor, and locker rooms were doubled, and around $400,000 worth of new equipment was added. Bike racks will also be added along with an Ent ATM that will have its own drive-up.
The Rec Center expansion was made possible by the student-approved fee increases of $80 for the rec expansion and $35 for the Wellness Center for every student each semester.
The fee increase, passed in spring 2014 with 63 percent of the vote, was an addition to original fees of $80 for the Rec Center and $25 for the Wellness Center, totaling $160 and $60 per semester per student, respectively.
Originally supposed to open for the start of fall semester, the Rec Center opened on Jan. 19, five months later.
“The first and actually most significant delay was our replacement of the retaining wall subcontractor,” said Charles Cummings, project manager.
Cummings said the university worked with the subcontractor before, and they had been problematic. For the Rec Center expansion, the same company was introduced to the university under a different name than what they had been called before.
Therefore, the subcontractor wasn’t originally recognized as the same company that has caused concern prior. Once the university found out, another company was found.
This set the project back eight to 12 weeks as the new contractor had to make a new design.
“We didn’t understand at first, when our general contractor brought them to us, it was the same company,” said Cummings.
Weather was also a factor, as large amounts of rain came to UCCS over the summer. That set the project back a month, damaging the old gymnasium as water seeped under the floor, requiring it to be replaced.
Cummings said the project is currently within the $16.3 million budget.
If the budget is eclipsed, the university could not come to students to raise the fee, said Tamara Moore, executive director for Auxiliary Services.
The building is open, but is not complete due to several small additions and changes that must be made.
Light fixtures, trim, hand rail repairs, public address system modifications and landscaping are in progress. Some stucco will also need to be redone in the spring, when the weather is warmer.
“Our intent is that the facility be of higher quality in the long run,” said Cummings.
Stephanie Hanenberg, executive director of Health Services, has overseen the move of the Wellness Center. She explained that they didn’t have time to set up the clinic by the original fall 2015 date.
“There were construction issues, and we were missing some furniture,” she said.
She went on to say that they did not want people to enter a primary care center and enter a construction zone.
Hanenberg is excited for the promises of an integrated facility.
“UCCS will be leading the nation in integrating health, encompassing recreation, health, mental health, nutrition and wellness,” Hanenberg explained.
As part of the move, more student resources have been added, including an eating disorder team, cooking demonstrations with their movable kitchen island and evening fitness screenings. They have also added more group fitness and yoga rooms.
The Wellness Center will continue to act as a primary care provider, employing licensed professionals, with same-day appointments available to students.
They will also continue to help people in any sort of mental crisis, offering individual, group or family therapy.
The idea to integrate the dimensions of health into one building came after faculty began asking how they were going to meet the needs of the students from all angles.
“If someone comes in sick but really has anxiety, they are in the same building,” Hanenberg said.
The Recreation and Wellness Center will have its main opening events on Feb. 29 at 11:30 a.m. with a formal ribbon cutting ceremony.
At 6 p.m. festivities begin with free food, classes, giveaways, tours and a DJ from UCCS Radio.
The Wellness Center will have chair massages, meditation sessions and an “Ask a Personal Trainer” table.