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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Utility tunnel to rely on funding from Rec Center

    Despite a dwindling budget for the Student Recreation Center expansion, Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog said student government is in the process of negotiating with campus administration regarding the allocations of funds.

    One of the biggest and most questionable allocations of resources is the requirement of a $2 million utility tunnel, the cost of which will be covered by the Rec Center expansion budget, not by central administration budget as in other campus construction projects.

    Student oppositions to this use of money arose last week at a town hall meeting for the expansion.

    “”It’s a complicated subject …but we would be

    We are viewing (the Rec Center tunnel) as a connection, not as a new distribution line.

    – David Duffy,

    director of campus and facilities planning

    interested to explore the expansion of (possible) endowments from the university,”” Hertzog said.

    The recently completed additions to the Arizona Health Sciences Center, including the Medical Research building, Drachman Hall and the BIO5 building, required utility tunnels similar to the one required for the Rec Center expansion.

    Despite having a combined building budget of more than $147 million for all three buildings, the cost to build the main utility tunnel was covered by a separate general fund called Infrastructure Phase VI, Mechanical and Electrical.

    The difference, and the reason that the $2 million is coming out of the expansion budget rather than from central administration, is that the Rec Center tunnel is classified differently than the Phase VI tunnel, said David Duffy, director of campus and facilities planning.

    “”We are viewing (the Rec Center tunnel) as a connection, not as a new distribution line,”” Duffy said.

    Just $400,000 per building was required to connect the new medical buildings to the Phase VI tunnel, which is classified as a new distribution line, Duffy said.

    Phase VI, which provides comprehensive utility tunnels to all three buildings, currently has a budget of $21.7 million.

    Rick Marsh, who served as construction manager for the recently completed Medical Research building project, said Phase VI was submitted to UA administration and then approved by the Arizona Board of Regents.

    To help cover the cost of the Rec Center expansion, students voted in November 2005 to continue to pay a $25 fee per semester until 2041.

    Hertzog said the per-semester student fee was originally set higher than $25 to help cover the budget, but the student government was able to talk the fee down to $25 to keep things economical for the students.

    But that was before the ASUA was aware of the need for a utility tunnel costing $2 million or more, Hertzog said.

    The extent of the additions will have a large impact on the UA in general, she added.

    “”The expansion is going to be a benefit in a huge way. … It’s a great recruiting tool – it has endless benefits for the UA – that’s why part of freshman orientation is centered around (the Rec),”” Hertzog said.

    The next step will be for the ASUA to explore different options with administration to make the most of the budget.

    Even if students can’t get central administration to pay for the tunnel, there may be other ways to cut costs.

    “”We might (decrease) maintenance fees,”” Hertzog said. “”If we can find ways to cut custodial costs, then that’s an easy way to save dollars.””

    Revised Rec Center plans include creating open spaces in the form of grass-covered courtyards, which would have sand volleyball courts as well as space for yoga, tai chi and other outdoor, group-oriented fitness classes.

    When, or if, more money becomes available, the courtyards would be replaced with a multi-activity court, which could accommodate indoor soccer and ice hockey.

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