By Eugene Burndam
For many months the building of a recreational center on campus has been an idea waiting to happen. But now students and faculty can see construction of the multi-million dollar state-of-the-art project begin.
Construction will be completed in approximately 18 months with an official opening date for the building set for Dec. 12, 2012, according to VP for Student Development Woody Webb. A big celebration has been planned on midnight of that date to welcome a new facility that will officially be named the New Student Life and Recreation Center.
“The center is a much anticipated addition to Olivet’s campus,” Webb said.
The site is estimated to measure 165,000 square feet.
“The New Student Life [and Recreation] Center is nearly three times the size of the Centennial Chapel,” Webb explained.
The complex will accommodate innovative and exciting features for the general student population, according to Webb.
The building will be made with high-tech modern design, including windows that reduce the amount of heat coming through the glass and geothermal energy to regulate the temperature.
“Behind Wisner Hall, hundreds of steel rods will be planted several yards underground, capturing the earth’s heat and joining with the building’s water circulation to give it heated water,” Webb explained.
Other features include a rock climbing wall, an eight-lane running track (which will host the first indoor track and field season in the winter of 2012 and indoor track meets on Saturdays), a 10-lane competition pool, and a recreational pool.
A women’s intercollegiate water polo team will be added to varsity sports and instructed by the newly proposed coach of Olivet’s first intercollegiate swim team. Co-ed swimming times are yet to be finalized, Webb said.
The complex will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday. Weekend hours will be set based on usage.
Webb added that the center would not be open for general public use.
The swim coach and the coach’s general assistant will be the only new staff members working in the center according to Webb, but a number of certified workers will be on staff to instruct and supervise students. These workers include one certified lifeguard on duty at all times while either pool is open and a certified student instructor to assist students who choose to climb the rock wall. All of these workers will be under the supervision of Director of Campus Recreation and Student Development Matt Smith.
Webb said the competition pool will be closed to general students during water polo and swim team practices although some of the lanes might be left open for non-competitive swimmers. The leisure pool, however, will be open regularly for students to enjoy.
Webb briefly spoke about the requirements for students’ attire whilst using either one of the pools. “During anytime students wish to use the pool, women would be required to wear one-piece suits and men modest shorts.”
For students, the possibility of being able to go swimming on campus may be months away, but construction has already begun in front of McHie Arena. As a result, parking spaces in that area must altered.
Director of Public Safety Craig Bishop said there are approximately 90 spaces in the Gibson-Ide parking area under construction. After the building’s completion, those spaces will be included as a resource for student parking. Bishop added that a total of 502 parking spaces will also be committed to the new Recreational Center in December 2012.
Roughly 100 spaces will be lost once construction is finished, but Bishop said these losses would be made up in other parts of Olivet’s campus.
“The approximate 117 parking spaces reduced due to the Recreation Center are regained in the parking resources located on the south side of University Avenue,” he said.
The Ward Field parking lot is one such area, as well as the east side of Centennial Chapel; both locations will have roughly 220 parking spaces. The chapel’s west side will make up the final lot with 180 parking spaces. Bishop said the inconvenience of parking at Ward Field instead of McHie has been anticipated, and spots at Ward Field will be provided at no extra charge.
A proposal has also been made to create a new paved parking area on the front lawn (south side) of Grand apartments 413 and 415, according to Bishop.
Men’s soccer graduate assistant, Matt Prunckle, used to park in front of McHie. Prunckle understands students’ feelings on the new parking situation.
“I think many [people] thought they were going to close it when students were let out in May,” he said. “It’s a little inconvenient but will be worth it once the rec center is finished in 2012.”