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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Senators fret over Rec redo

    Heaps of construction equipment and overturned ground dominate an open area next to the Student Recreation Center. Dirt covered by heavy machinery now occupies what will be a sand volleyball court, along with numerous other expansions to the UA facility – expansions that are right on track for their projected spring 2010 opening.

    “”It’s going to be an exceptional building,”” Facilities Project manager Colleen Morgan told the student government last night at the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Senate meeting. “”This is going to be like a billboard for fitness.””

    Morgan scrolled through scores of photos, plans and drawings depicting the Rec Center’s final turn down the stretch of construction that will be completed by November while senators looked on and probed the representative about the $27 million project.

    Given that the expanded facility will include several open areas of glass to harness natural light, ASUA Sen. Jimmy MacKenzie was concerned that the building would be vulnerable to attacks of vandalism.

    MacKenzie cited the Architecture building as an example, noting that the building has been fending off vandalism over the last two years.

    The only definite way for the Rec Center to fully defend itself from such attacks would be to install bulletproof glass, a prospect that the current budget does not allow, Morgan said.

    The expanded center will include double-pane glass, similar to the glass used in the architecture building. The Speedway Boulevard attacks on the architecture building only shattered the outside pane, leaving the inside one unharmed, she said.

    Bulletproof glass would have to be replaced after each instance of vandalism anyway, as it is protective, not a measure of vanity, Morgan added.

    Although the center will be set back from the immediate area next to Sixth Street, MacKenzie was worried about the building’s safety between business hours and suggested the use of cameras as a crime deterrent.

    Campus Rec officials have discussed the possibility of cameras, but they are currently in a “”wait-and-see”” mode because of budget concerns, Morgan said.

    Campus Rec’s expanded facility will be Arizona’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building, she added.

    LEED is a system by which sustainable buildings are rated, “”Certified”” being the lowest form of certification and “”Platinum”” being the highest. Buildings are rated on such factors as energy efficiency, sustainable design, water efficiency and the use of natural resources, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, the organization that created the LEED standard.

    The Rec Center has been in constant contact with several university entities to gain feedback “”over what we wanted in this facility,”” Morgan said. “”This building is going to look very dynamic.””

    ASUA Sen. Emily Fritze, who served on the Recreation Advisory Committee while she was in ASUA’s Freshman Class Council, said she was worried that the prospects of the new Rec Center expansion would cause students to doubt her initial election platform.

    Last spring in Fritze’s campaign for the Senate, she ran on a platform that included looking into the possibility of using part of the parking lot accompanying the Rec Center for such activities as student tailgating and field space.

    While she will continue to search for ways to turn the possibility into a reality, Fritze said the outlook is less than realistic.

    Due to issues the UA is facing with regard to the state budget crisis, funding such use of the space “”really isn’t something that’s top priority right now,”” Fritze said. “”It’s just not ideal.””

    Since purchasing spaces from the university costs an estimated $10,000 per parking spot, ASUA’s only avenue to using the space may involve cutting a deal with Parking and Transportation services. A deal would be difficult to come by for the student government due to such issues as money and liability, Fritze said.

    Adding to the obstacles: the space is already in use and potential donors are nowhere to be found, she said.

    “”We’re looking for possible donors,”” Fritze said. “”But everyone’s struggling (financially).””

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