Approval sought for wellness center plan

Shayla Waugh

Shayla Waugh

A preliminary facility statement to construct a student wellness and recreation center is being sent by SDSU to the South Dakota Board of Regents and the South Dakota Legislature for approval.

If the revised plan is approved, SDSU students will experience a per-credit increase of between $2 to $3 in the General Activity Fee (GAF). The updated project will allow for expansion on a prior wellness center project. The addition of recreational facilities onto the wellness center project will raise project costs from $6 million to $12 million.

The facilities in the revised plan include a walking track, cardio workout space, weight room, aerobic studio, multipurpose recreation courts, climbing walls, lockers, showers, offices, varsity women’s locker facilities, student health and counseling center and handball or racquetball courts.

Ryan Brunner, Students’ Association president, said to cut costs, the senate is looking at keeping the square footage the same and adding items such as a rock-climbing wall later. The wait could save a half-million dollars, Brunner said.

The increase will raise SDSU’s current GAF to between $20.55 and $21.55. Compared to South Dakota’s five other universities’ GAFs, the Students’ Association says this will place SDSU below Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota.

Michael Reger, executive vice president for administration at SDSU, said the project began in 1993 and included a master plan for student health, student physical education, varsity athletics and student recreation. The project cost estimate for the facility was set around $14 million.

According to the revised preliminary facility statement, the original plan was approved by the Board of Regents and the Legislature. The approval was contingent upon funding the project with donations and gifts to the university.

Reger said the original wellness project did not receive enough funding to begin construction because more financial support was received for the Performing Arts Center, a project which was also developed at the time.

Prior to the creation of the revised preliminary facility statement, building of a $6 million wellness center was set to begin July 1, 2006, pending the passsgr of a varsity ladies’ locker room renovation bill in the Legislature this spring.

Brunner said recreational additions to the facility would reduce current conflicts between students and community members and the university’s varsity athletics. He said the statement was created because in the long run, building both the wellness facilities and recreational facilities at one time rather than in two phases will be more cost efficient. This will better meet the needs of SDSU, than the $6 million wellness facility.

The SA is currently collecting signatures in support of the facility statemen. The petition will go to the Dec. 15 Board of Regents meeting.

The SA approved a resolution to send the revised facility plan to the Board of Regents and the South Dakota State Legislature at its Nov. 7 meeting.

Brunner said he is optimistic the Board of Regents will approve the updated plan due to large student support.

“When there is a lot of support from the university, I feel the Board of Regents will take note of this and also be supportive. This project is something that needs to be completed. The updated plan is adequate both for SDSU now and in the future,” said Brunner.

Brunner said, if approved, building on the facilities can begin July 1 and will take between 18 months and two years to complete. He said this would ensure that students currently living in the dorms would be able to use the facilities before they graduate.

If approved, the facilities will be built as an addition to the HPER Center at SDSU. Reger said the building will be built in a way in which both community members and students can use the center without having to deal with any athletic events occurring at the HPER.