REC expansion on the way
33.5 million dollars; 140,000 square feet; no increase in fees
Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 01:08
The Student Recreation Center is about to make some substantial gains.
Beginning in the spring of 2014, the REC will undergo a two-year facility expansion that will add both space and services to its amenities. The expansion, scheduled for completion in January 2016, will not result in increased
“It has been 18 years since we built the REC in 1995,” said Kelly VonDrehle, communications coordinator for the department of recreational sports. “For some time we realized that it’s been overcrowded, and now is the time to expand.”
VonDrehdle said the REC has paid off one loan, which allows it to borrow money without increasing fees.
The expansion plan calls for several overhauls of existing space. Rick Hall, senior associate director for the department of recreational sports, said the weight and fitness room will double in size, and new activity rooms for group exercise classes and student organizations will be added. Gymnasium space will also be added and the natatorium will be renovated.
According to the Texas A&M University System, the project will cost $33,500,000. Several other features are planned for new additions as alternates if construction bids are favorable.
“We also hope to add an indoor, eight lane pool, a 6,000 square-foot multi-
activity room that can be used for large group activities and banquets and a potential second entrance on the south side of the building,” Hall said in a press release.
In June, several concerns were raised at a Council for the Built Environment meeting that pushed back the expansion announcement and construction date, notably because of the REC’s proximity to the railroad.
“The [original] plan had to be overhauled,” said Holly Scott, senior political science major and chief policy advisor to Student Body President Reid Joseph. “There had to be a re-design to account for keeping a safe distance from the railroad tracks.”
The REC has more than 300,952 square feet of space for students to use. However, with a student body population over 50,000, some students find the current space inadequate to meet everyone’s health goals, a concern that the Department of Recreational Sports acknowledges.
“The student population has increased 25 percent since we first opened 18 years ago,” said Dennis Corrington, executive director at the Department of Recreational Sports. “The new space that we are adding will go a long way to meet the needs of the 50,000-plus student body.”
The growing student population and its effect on the REC’s ability to serve students can be seen in the weight room, where the volume of users can sometimes force students to either wait or come back at a later time.
“Every time I go to the weight room, it’s always crowded,” said David Novinski, sophomore construction science major. “Sometimes you walk into the weight room and you’re forced to leave because it’s too crowded.”
Rather than deal with wait times, some students adapt their schedules to fit around the REC’s increasing usage.
“The most convenient time for me to go [to the REC] is 5 or 6 p.m., but I usually have to wait 15 minutes before something opens up, so I had to change my schedule,” said Berkay Basagaoglu, sophomore biomedical engineering major. “Now I go at night around 9 p.m. to avoid the crowds.”
The REC’s current facilities will remain open during construction, however several areas will most likely temporarily close as the project progresses. Hall said the weight and fitness room may not be available during certain times throughout the project, but during these closures alternate locations for weight room equipment will be provided.
Hall said the outdoor pool will close beginning October 1, 2014, for several months to upgrade its mechanical systems.