New center long overdue

Construction has begun on phase one of the new campus recreation center. The $6.9 million facility is scheduled to open January 2006 according to Campus Recreation officials. Construction of the $6.7 million phase two is scheduled to begin by years end, pending state legislative approval.

The three-story, 38,000 sq. ft. fitness center will have male and female locker room facilities, three basketball courts, four racquetball courts, an indoor running track, sauna, whirlpool, and a 16,000 sq. ft. fitness area.

Regan Williams said the new recreation center is long overdue.

“When you compare Florida State’s recreation center to ours, it’s a major disgrace,” said the 22-year-old senior political science student from Miami.

Williams works out three times a week in the current fitness center and said that operating hours are also a problem.

“Florida State University’s gym is open until 10 p.m. and our gym closes at 6 p.m.,” he said.

Hours of operation may be a continuing problem at the new recreation center, according to Robert Carroll, director of Campus Recreation. While the state has set aside $13.6 million to build the new facility, it is left up to Campus Recreation to run, operate and maintain it, Carroll said.

Carroll said that if the organization is under-funded, the hours of operation and services would be limited.

“Over the years, I have been to Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, USF, UCF, preparing for this center, and you know this is what is missing from our campus,” Carroll said.

“We are trying to give the students facilities and services comparable to that of the other state universities so they won’t have to go to FSU or get a membership at another gym,” Carroll explained.

Campus Recreation is an activity and service organization that is funded by Activities & Service fees.

The Senate decides how the money gets appropriated.

The budget for this year’s A&S organizations was $3.57 million.

Of that amount, the A&S committee allocated a $286,452 budget to campus recreation, according to the Senate 2004-2005 A&S fee budget.

Recreation plans to request $1.2 million budget for next year, according to Carroll.

Although campus recreation is asking for more money, there will be no increase in A&S fees for students, said student Senate President Ramon Alexander.

“Over 80 percent of our students are on need-base aid, so we have to be careful when deciding whether or not to raise fees,” Alexander said.

Alexander also said the Student Government Association is responsible for dividing money among all the organizations.

“Everyone needs money. That is why it’s important that everyone goes through the same fair process for requesting funds,” Alexander said.

“We plan to organize a focus group and sit down with Mrs. Carroll to find a way to come up with supplemental funding for the recreation center,” Alexander said.

Once open, the new center will be able to generate additional revenue by offering special services, Carroll said.

“These funds will not be available until after we open. Plus we have pay to promote these services so that the students will use them,” Carroll said.

Meanwhile, the new recreation center will have to compete with the other A&S organizations for funding.

Contact Rashard Thurston at