Rec renovations in students’ hands

James Heggen

Monday marks the beginning of an online vote for the proposed $52.8 million renovation to recreation service facilities. Students will have until Feb. 27 to vote in favor of or against the proposal.

The project, if approved, will be carried out in three stages – renovating Beyer Hall and State Gym on the west side of campus, adding onto State Gym and installing air-conditioning in the Lied Recreation Athletic Center.

If approved, the cost of the project would be placed on the shoulders of ISU students in the form of a 25-year bond, which would be paid for with student fee money. For the first two years of the bond, a $20 per semester fee would be applied. The fee would jump to $107 per semester for the remaining 23 years of the bond. These increases would come in addition to the current student fee for rec services, which is $15.25 per semester.

Brian Phillips, Government of the Student Body president and senior in political science, has worked with the administration on the project since he became GSB president. He said that, in order to effect a project on this scale, there are four possible sources of funding: state appropriations, tuition, student fees and private donors.

Mike Harvey, director of Recreation Services, said the state is not interested in using its funds to build non-academic buildings, and Phillips said private donors typically are not interested in paying for a project such as this.

After discounting state appropriations and private donors, the only remaining options are tuition and student fees.

Phillips said he is in favor of paying for the project with student fees because students have a lot more control over how the money is spent.

The renovation process started a few years ago and included a survey that 5,401 students responded to. In the survey, students were asked to give their opinion of the current facilities and what improvements they would like to see.

Harvey said the proposed renovations to State Gym and Beyer Hall are necessary because the buildings are in need of repair. State Gym is not in compliance with several building codes, according to a feasibility study performed by Cannon Design.

“One of the particular ones is elevator access . we have no elevator,” Harvey said. “That would be a big one.”

Handrails are also an issue in both State Gym and Beyer Hall. Currently, both have handrails that are not at proper heights or that lack proper openings.

“There’s lead paint on the stairs [in State Gym] that makes it problematic, there’s lead paint on some of the windows,” Harvey said.

Harvey said there are other issues that aren’t building-code related, such as the condition of the windows and bricks in the buildings.

In all, Harvey said there is $10 million to $12 million in deferred maintenance work to be done. He said most of the cost of the renovations to the two buildings would go toward addressing the deferred maintenance and meeting the standards students and faculty are looking for.

Also part of the renovations would be an elevated walkway connecting Beyer Hall and State Gym over Union Drive.

A smaller portion of the proposed project, $3 million, would go to air-conditioning Lied. This would be the first stage of the project to be completed.

Harvey said the intent of the stage is to provide comfort to those who use Lied. He also said not having air conditioning is a safety issue.

However, Garry Greenlee, associate director of Recreation Services, said he did not know of any issues related to the heat.

“I don’t believe we’ve ever had any reports of, you know, heat exhaustion, calling the ambulances, things like that,” he said. “No, we don’t have really any instance where they’re just dropping every day.”

Andrew Boekelman, GSB senator and senior in sociology, voted against the GSB resolution in support of the renovations. He said one of the issues he had with the project was the cost for students. He was for the renovations, but not the addition to State Gym – he thought most people would agree that the proposed renovations to Beyer Hall and State Gym are necessary.

“I feel like there were other options that were overlooked,” he said.

Boekelman brought up the idea of using the Armory. With the new addition to the Design College and design studios, there will be more space available in the Armory. He also said that if the athletic department were to build its own practice facility in the future, that could relieve some of the use of Lied.

Phillips is in favor of the renovation. His support stems from his belief that the current facilities are inadequate based on student polls and compared to other peer institutions.

“It’s also based on my personal discussions I’ve had with students,” he said.

Phillips said the current available space for rec services at Iowa State is “far below” the average seen at other universities.

Phillips said, despite the scale of the project, the current proposal is smaller than the original.

“Initially, this project was a lot more,” he said.

Proposed renovation

Total cost: $52.8 million

Total construction cost: $34 million

State Gym renovation: $9 million

New basketball flooring

Two multipurpose rooms

Air conditioning in east and west ends

Personal training area

New windows, plumbing and electrical

Improved access for people with disabilities

Beyer Hall renovation: $1 million

Two multipurpose rooms

Locker room renovation

Combined racquetball and squash courts

New lobby area

Improved access for people with disabilities

State Gym addition: $21 million

92,320-square-foot addition

Weight/fitness room: 16,000 square feet

Climbing wall

Leisure pool, hot tub, sauna

25-meter lap pool

Three full-length basketball courts

Four-lane elevated running track

Multipurpose room

Elevated walkway connecting to State Gym

Access for people with disabilities

Lied Recreation Athletic Center: $3 million

Air conditioning