The new Recreational Center is set to tentatively break ground in August 2017 and be completed in November 2018, according to SGA President Olivia Melton, a senior mathematics and economics major from Orange Beach.
Senior Vice Chancellor of Student Services and Administration John Dew confirmed in an email that fall 2017 was the groundbreaking, but could not verify August specifically.
“Fall 2017 is our expectation for breaking ground and starting work,” Dew said. “Whether it is August or September or even October will depend on the bid process for identifying a construction company, as I understand it.”
A public town hall meeting was held on Thursday, Feb. 9, which allowed students to learn more about the updates on the Rec Center. The meeting consisted of Melton, SGA Senator Sierra Clark, a junior exercise science major from Birmingham, and At-Large Senator Ashli Morris, a junior political science major from Athens, answering student questions about the Rec Center as well as providing general information about the Rec Center.
According to Melton, the center will be built where the Sartain Hall parking lot is currently located, across from the baseball field.
Melton said that with the Sartain parking lot gone during construction, she hopes students will utilize the Transloc app. She also said that the SGA has discussed moving zones around to help accommodate the lost parking.
“It’s going be be one of those times where it’s not going to be fun, but it’s going to be worth it,” Melton said.
Once construction on the new Rec Center is finished, Sartain Hall will be torn down and that area will become Rec Center parking, according to Melton. However, Sartain will remain open during the construction of the Rec Center building so it can be used while the center is being built.
Clark said that the future parking lot will be about the same size as the current Sartain parking lot, so the university won’t be losing any parking.
“I think we might lose or gain like three spots, but overall, it’s the same parking lot,” Clark said.
Melton said that the parking lot is currently still set to be all commuter, but that it can be adjusted as needed.
Melton said the building itself will be three stories with one rotunda-shaped entrance. Melton also said that some bathrooms will be located in the front of the building so that the entire building doesn’t have to be open to provide extra bathrooms on game day.
There will be a healthy food option in the center as well.
Morris said that students will not have to sign in to the Rec Center to be able to use the healthy food option.
“It’s just right there for you to walk in and grab something, then go if you want to,” Morris said.
Clark said they are talking to Sodexo to try and get an option so that students will be able to use their flex points at the stand.
According to Melton, the first floor will consist of two courts, comprising one mat court and one with a gym floor, two group exercise rooms, offices that include a rentable conference room, cardio space, 20 individualized lockers and a heavy weights room.
The pool will be accessed from the first floor. Melton said the greenery lining the pool area will provide cover so that no one outside can see the people using the pool.
The second floor will contain cardio equipment, strength equipment, lockers, some more mechanical equipment and a game room.
The game room will hold only one billiards table and two pingpong tables, according to Melton. However, Melton said the equipment will be new.
Melton also said that she believed this was not supposed to be the main game room.
“That game room isn’t — I don’t think — meant to replace the one that’s in TC,” Melton said. “I think they’re going to, like, put another in TC.”
The third floor is running track that is 8.7 laps to a mile, according to Melton. There will also be weights, restrooms and a rooftop patio. Melton said that people could use the rooftop for things like morning yoga.
Melton said the Rec Center fee will be $125 per semester next year, and then $150 the following year and every year after.
“Students from here on out will be paying that fee, like, from here until the end of time,” Melton said.
The Rec Center is currently slated to be available only to students and faculty, but faculty will have to pay a fee, according to Melton.
Clark also said that she is trying to establish alumni benefits for those who have paid into the center, but will graduate before it’s completed. Clark talked about her current plan for alumni benefits, but noted that it was just her presentation and is by no means confirmed to happen.
“I think the amount of time you pay for the Rec Center should be the amount of time that you get the Rec Center,” Clark said.
Morris, Clark and Melton are open to student suggestions, ideas and complaints.