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Rec center campaign kicks into high gear

The campaign to build a student recreation building kicked into its active phase this week, with volunteers fanning out to solicit enough student signatures to get the proposal on the March student election ballot.The volunteers face a two-tiered campaign: first to collect enough signatures to bring the center to a vote, the second to convince students to pay a rec center fee to finance the facility.Christy Harper, junior in political science and leader in the drive to build the center, estimated about 2,400 signatures are needed to make the March 10-12 ballot for general student elections. She said she is confident that will be no problem. She would like to have substantially more than that number to indicate strong student support for the project.Harper and Alex Acetta, adviser for campus recreation, rallied some of their troops Friday and got commitments for a list of activities designed to gain student approval for the new center. Volunteer effort will focus first on getting the 2,400 signatures. Further activities will include class raps, open forums, tabling, flier distribution and a potential open house.Getting out the vote will become the target of the campaigners once the required signatures are gathered to gain a ballot position. Student body elections normally draw very small voter turnouts, but Harper is shooting for a larger turnout to indicate strong student support.”I hope to get 1,000 votes,” she said. A vote of approval would not automatically authorize a center. The results would then go to the chancellor of higher education, to approve or disapprove the project.Ryan Vesalpour, ASPSU community affairs director, pledged the strong support of ASPSU to the project. He is organizing a student life round table forum February 19 in Parkway North at noon. The forum will cover different ideas for increasing student life activities and the rec center will share the spotlight.Another open forum is tentatively scheduled for February 25 at 1 p.m. in Parkway North. Jacob Bedding will coordinate that program focused entirely on the center project.Harper emphasized that a vote of approval in the March elections does not commit any student to the tentative designs already drawn for the center. If the project gets a go-ahead, new architectural proposals will be considered. Students will be advised and consulted on each phase of a final design.”People will be involved in creating the rec center, top to bottom,” Harper said.At the Friday meeting, a question came up about a possible change of site. Harper said the approved location is fixed. The building would fill a full block of Southwest Market Street between Southwest 11th and 12th avenues.The proposed center would become a state-of-the-art recreational facility to provide a home for general student recreation, intramurals, club sports, aquatic exercise, fitness and outdoor programs. It would cost an estimated $30 million with an estimated $1.3 million annual operating cost.The proposal to pay for the building would increase the overall fees paid by each student, each quarter, by not more than $41. The current fee being paid by every student is $11 a quarter. The additional fee would be $24 a quarter beginning fall 2005, $30 a quarter beginning summer 2006, and $52 a quarter summer 2007. The center would schedule its opening fall term 2007 with the current $11 subtracted from the overall student fee as of summer 2007.If approved, final design is still far on the horizon. An architectural firm would be chosen and a design proposal submitted. Students would be invited to open forums to discuss features to be included. Possibilities might entail student group offices, meeting space, a three-court gym, a running track, a floor for floor hockey and soccer, a fitness facility, swimming pools and new locker rooms.The current tentative design includes five floors of housing, which would be paid for by the administration, not the students.