KSU project taking shape

By Heather Condley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Ground was broken for the recreation center in September and nearly a year later the project is on schedule and expected to be complete by early 1999.

Driving on East Summit Street, area residents can see that a significant amount of steel has already gone up on the $25 million, 153,000-square-foot building, which is being built across from the Liquid Crystal Institute.

The center is being billed by KSU officials as "one of the best facilities of its kind in the nation."

Paul Milton, director of recreational services, is calling the facility "the next generation" in recreation centers.

While all of the center's features stand out, one of the most unique is the 6,000-square-foot mall, which will feature a pro shop, a deli/juice bar, tables and chairs and a membership information area.

Milton said most universities have very functional malls that serve as mere "entryways" into the facility. While KSU's will be functional, it will also be user friendly, he added.

"Because the activity areas are at a lower level, people sitting at the tables and chairs can look below and see the pools and fitness areas," he said.

People will also have a clear view of the 35-foot simulated rock climbing wall, which will begin at the lower level and end roughly two feet above the track on the third level.

In fact, KSU will be one of the first universities using an auto-belay system on it's climbing wall. The system will allow people to climb by themselves instead of with a belay partner to hold the ropes as is usually done.

Milton is also equally proud of the natatorium that will feature two pools _ one a 25-meter, six-lane fitness pool and a leisure pool with whirlpool, cool water spa, a wading pool, a water vortex and water basketball and volleyball.

"I think this will be one of the really fun areas," Milton said.

The pool area will also feature lounge chairs, 40-feet high palm trees, and a wet classroom, which will most likely be used for lifeguard training.

Each locker room in the facility will include a sauna and individual shower facilities. University officials have also chosen to include a family changing area, to accommodate parents with small children.

This "is a concept that got started a few years ago and just started to catch on here. We have had this situation happen a lot here," he said. "We'd get the father coming in with his five-year-old daughter. Do you take her in the men's locker room, or do you send her into the women's locker room all by herself? It's kind of uncomfortable all the way around."

The family changing areas will feature two rooms with locking doors. Each room will have 10 lockers, a shower and a toilet.

Another of the more rare features that has been included in the center's design is a children's activity center, which is basically a baby-sitting service that will allow participants to drop their children off, for a minimal fee, while they work out.

The center will also house a game room, several multi-purpose studios that can be used for aerobics, four basketball courts, six volleyball courts, badminton and fencing facilities, and a weight room and fitness area.

To pay for the new facility and all its trappings, student fees will be increased by $55, beginning in the Spring 1999 semester. The facility will also generate between 150 and 200 new jobs for students on campus, Milton said.

"I think it will generate more participant interest, not only in the rec. center, but also with our other programs like intramurals," he said. "We will also offer a community membership."

Recreation Services has created a committee to study the department's and operations policies and one of it's directives is to look at community membership fees.

"Our rates will be competitive, but I think we'll be very reasonable. I think people will be pleased," he said.

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