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The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Miller Wellness Center Begins Phase 3 Planning

Allie Weber

Planning for the phase 3 extension of the Miller Wellness Center has started and it is expected to be completed by 2027, almost 10 years after phase 2.  

Located on the north side of campus, the wellness center has been open to students, faculty and the Brookings community since 2008. It is comprised of the fitness section, the student health clinic and counseling, and the Jackrabbit pharmacy. 

“The student health counseling and the Jackrabbit pharmacy was one of the first in the country to have that comprehensive wellness concept, which we’re really proud of,” Shari Landmark, director of Recreation and Fitness said. “We had no clue how popular it would be.” 

10 years later, phase two extension took place, adding a new entrance, the multi-activity court, the fourth basketball court, the racquetball courts, and the outdoor program space.  

“…In 2018, we added on our phase 2 and since then it’s just been so busy in here, which is great and a good problem to have,” Landmark said. 

The wellness center’s phase 3 extension looks forward to possibly adding a new pool, bringing E-sports to this facility and some extra fitness space. 

“Now we use the pool in the athletic facility and share that, but it’s an ageing pool,” Landmark said. “We have our e-sports arena right now in the bottom of enrollment services center and it’s a really awesome space, but it’s way on the other side of the campus and so we’re hoping to bring it to our building.” 

The current plan of the wellness center’s extension would primarily begin with focus groups that come together to discuss ideas for the expansion.  

“Talking to students and asking them about what they use now and what they would like more of would help with ideas,” Landmark said. “And that may even include our student health counselling space, like we’re short with counsellors and so it would be something to maybe renovate that space to add more counsellors.” 

Landmark said it would develop a preliminary facility statement to talk about additional services that need to be built. Following this, a facility program plan would help present these ideas to an architect, leading to a facility design plan that would provide a budget and a layout plan. Following with plans of a building project, the university would then work with the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) to move forward. 

Although the wellness center’s phase 3 planning is at an early stage, Landmark further elaborated on the operating expenses that would follow post expansion of the facility. Costs such as running the pool, having the lights on, the chemicals for the pool, staffing and timings of operation would be taken into consideration. 

“After all these steps, we would then be able to find out, of course, fund raise and see where that money is going to come from to make that happen,” Landmark said. “It’s a long process, and it probably would be three to four years, I would say probably 2027.” 

As for funds, Landmark discussed donors and fundraising, which could take time throughout the entire process of the expansion. 

“USD in Vermillion is building a pool right now, and it started I guess at $22 million,” Landmark said. “But because of construction costs, it went up to $30 million and that is a lot.” 

According to ‘The Volante’, college newspaper for University of South Dakota (USD), the pool expansion started at $25 million in 2022 and is now a project of $31.25 million with an estimated 45,800 gross square feet. 

“We’re looking at a minimum of $30 million and as we wait for a few extra years, the costs are only going to go up,” Landmark said. 

Possibilities of the wellness center’s extension could take place on either the west side or the north side towards the stadium. Accessibility for campus and the Brookings community to use the facility would solely depend on the expansion side. 

“With a pool or the aquatic center, we would probably want a second entrance,” Landmark said. “So, for example, if athletics is having a meet, they could have a separate entrance or if you just want to use the pool, rather than walking the entire facility, you can go into the pool entrance.” 

Landmark believes that input from students, faculty and staff, and the Brookings community on the wellness center’s expansion would help combine ideas of bringing in new additions to the facility. 

“Talking to students, one who use the facility, but I also want to talk to students who don’t use our facility and say why aren’t you using it, because we want you to come use our facility,” Landmark said. “It’s a part of your GAF [General Activity Fee] and students are paying for it, so we want you to come use it and that goes for both the recreation and fitness, and the health and counselling center.” 

Students’ Association President Trinity Peterson explained about how she never recalled a moment where the wellness center has not been packed, which she indicates is a good sign. Peterson believes that when the expansion takes place, it would be attractive to new and current students. 

“I think the professional staff at the wellness center as well as the administration at the university are very aware that it is needed and it’s definitely a priority, so it’s great that everyone is on board,” Peterson said. “It does get pretty busy in there, even at 5:30 in the morning so even if I don’t see it in my time here, it will benefit students for years to come.” 

Sidhanth Pillai, a graduate student majoring in engineering, uses the wellness center for sport activities and believes that availability of courts during school year becomes difficult to accommodate for other games. Pillai believes that the addition of courts in the wellness center would be beneficial. 

Landmark stated that an update on the expansion of the wellness center could be expected somewhere around Thanksgiving this year. 

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Kenneth Rebello, Asst. News Editor

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    Mavis GehantDec 30, 2023 at 6:46 pm

    If another pool us added, l would like to suggest looking into the benefits of a salt water pool. Thank you.
    I am a member of the community and have used the facility for years.