Recreation Center Scheduled to Open This Week

Students residing in East Hall have had the privilege of witnessing a 50,000 square-feet facility being erected outside their windows, and now it is time to stop the construction noise and hit the weights.

The building is the new Charles D. Dunn Student Recreation Center. Henderson will open the doors to this new physical fitness center on Wednesday, April 15, 2009.

Discussion of the recreation center began over two and a half years ago, with a combination of the SGA, Student Services, and the HPERD Department. The building was a group effort, with staff support coming from Dean of Students Chad Fielding and Director of Campus Recreation Kris Dunn. “Many people had their ideas on placing a recreation center on campus,” said Dunn.

Dunn has been pleased with the development of the center, especially on the construction end. The original anticipated cost of the facility was over $7 million dollars, but the facility will come in under budget resting at a final cost of $6.5 million. As the facility operations manager, Dunn couldn’t be more happy with the construction company, Kinko. “Construction is basically right on time,” said Dunn. “Due to rain and bad weather through the year some minor push backs have taken place, but overall, Kinko the construction company has done a good job of staying on pace with the original schedule.”

The recreation center will be a self-sustained operation, with no money from the university being used to help keep the building functioning on a daily basis. However, $6.5 million dollars doesn’t just come raining down onto the quad, so the money has to come from somewhere. Bonds were issued to build the facility, and once opened the building will run solely on a fee from students. All students taking seven or more hours will be charged the fee automatically. The fee is $125 per semester, with a $32.50 rate for each summer term. Some quick Reddie math on those figures rounds the total up to $315 for an entire year.

Henderson employees do not have free access to the new facility. In an email addressed to all faculty and staff, Dunn announced “You all will be charged the same amount as the students.” The building is set to open just two weeks before commencement. These two weeks will run a trial period, with real hours beginning in the fall. During these trial weeks, the center will run a modified schedule. The building will be open 8a.m. to 9p.m. on weekdays, and 1p.m. to 6p.m. on the weekends. The hours will be extended in the fall to 6a.m. to 11p.m. on weekdays, 10a.m. to 8p.m. on Saturdays, and 1p.m. to 11p.m. on Sundays.

Use of the facility will be closely restricted to people related to HSU. Students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and spouses of all these are allowed to pay the membership fee and join. Not included in this list would be parents, friends and OBU students, who would all be classified as guests. Guests are allowed, but there is a fee. Just like the front doors to the dormitories, a student I.D. swipe will be required to enter the recreation center.

$6.5 million dollars didn’t just go to bricks and mortar, the new facility is going to be packed full of features. According to Dunn, the facility will have a “bouldering wall, indoor track, hang-out lobbies with TV’s and couch’s, three hardwood basketball courts, full scale weight room with over 24 cardio machines, full line of Nautilus One machine select weights, great selection of free weights and dumbbells, aerobics/multipurpose room, etc.” The building will also feature an outdoor programming area for checking out tents, camping gear, mountain bikes and kayaks.

The salaries, work study payments, and any other operational costs will all be covered under the fee. The staff will be Dunn as the director, Brandon Randle as assistant director, four GA’s, 23 work study positions, one full time custodian and two part time.

During the final weeks before the opening, the Garrison Center fitness equipment has been unavailable. All equipment, old and new, had to be moved over from the Garrison Center to the Dunn Center, a process that could not be handled in an afternoon. Freshman finance major Brantly Neighbors is awaiting the opening with greater anticipation as the date approaches. “I’m getting more and more excited about the new facility because I haven’t been able to use the Garrison,” said Neighbors.

It takes over two years of planning and over $6 million dollars to pull off a facility of this nature. The facility opens Wednesday with something for everyone. Students taking seven or more hours will be enjoying the facility by inadvertently paying the associated fee, and jogging on treadmills running parallel to faculty knowing the price of every step.