Connecticut Commons to be demolished to make room for new rec center

In this photo, the Connecticut Commons residential area is pictured. CTC, which is currently open to upperclassmen in the honors program, is slated for demolition to make room for the new student recreation facility. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Come 2017, Connecticut Commons (CTC) will be no more in order to make way for the long awaited new student recreational facility set to open in fall 2019.

“When looking through plans of where the best location to put the new student recreation center, a study revealed to our president and administration that Connecticut Commons would be the best site,” Executive Director of Recreational Services Cyndi Costanzo said.

CTC, located between the library, Co-Op and Business School in the center of the Storrs campus, is currently a housing option available to 412 upperclassmen in the honors program. CTC offers suites filled with six singles, adjoined by one bathroom. 

Other discussed sites were Y-Lot and rebuilding the gym at the current location of the recreation center.

“The location in Y lot is the best consideration so students do not have to give up the gym during construction," undergraduate student government president Rachel Conboy said in an interview last week. "The master planners have looked at where the future of our campus is going and the option to build where the current building stands, would force students out of a rec facility for two years. Y-Lot allows for more field and outdoor space for club sports, any student who has an interest in the gym can come and sit on the committee to give their thoughts.”

The student committee Conboy details is made up of 15 students including five graduate students and ten who undergraduates. These students are selected to be the “core group who provide input on the new facilities, but it is open for all students to get engaged with the process,” Costanzo said. 

When looking through plans of where the best location to put the new student recreation center, a study revealed to our president and administration that Connecticut Commons would be the best site.
— Executive Director of Recreational Services Cyndi Costanzo.

Although a new recreation center is talked about by nearly all students, those living in CTC feel as though their input was not heard in this matter.

Third-semester political science major Jared Quigley expressed his concerns over honors housing and what would happen to current honors students who have planned on living in CTC in coming years.

“UConn is consistently gaining more students per freshman class and if CTC were to be demolished it would only slow UConn’s efforts to house and accommodate more students,” third-semester economics major Kassra Farahbakhshian said. “It makes no sense.”

An email sent out by assistant vice provost for enrichment programs and director of the honors program Dr. Jennifer Lease Butts informed students that the honors program would be working with residential life and the dean of students offices to look at other options for honors housing. Lease Butts will also be in attendance of the Honors Council Town Hall meeting on November 19th and “should have some more information to share… at that time.”

The proposed new facilities for the student recreation center will be 200,000 square feet, with 20,000 square feet dedicated to a Fitness center and outdoor recreation fields located in a current residential parking area, D Lot.

There will be, “five full-size basketball courts, a running track, an aquatics center; including a 50 meter swimming pool, a wellness center, squash and racquetball courts, space for club sports and other flexible spaces to support UConn’s recreation programs and activities.”

The current recreation center facilities are 25,000 square feet in total.

“This comes from students really articulating what they need from the university and the administration listening,” Executive Director of Recreational Services Cyndi Costanzo said. “The administration truly understands the impact a recreational center has on its entire community and because of this, there is administrator support at the highest levels. The university wants to make sure it allows for its students to develop holistically.”

The development of the STEM dorms in Hilltop is set to alleviate the lack of housing from the demolishment of CTC. In discussion of location, civil engineers and university architects are planning on new spaces for parking, although there is not a definite location as of yet.

There is no official plan for the current recreational facility either. It will remain operational for the next two years be for the next two years before the construction on the new facility begins.

“The reason why we had Rachel [Conboy] send out the email as opposed to someone from administration, is that we want the students to know that this is from student involvement and decisions,” said Costanzo. “Students can sit on committee and give input as to what they want to see from their gym to help out classes to come.”

Students have been asked for input since December of 2013 and recently have been able to join a task force to discuss further in January of 2015. Some spots still exist on the committee and students must apply to be given that position. This application process is run through Recreation.

“Students should feel lucky to have this opportunity,” Costanzo said.

Students will not be required to pay anything out of pocket until the gym is opened in 2019. In fall 2019, students will see a fee bill with the allocated cost to be determined upon completion. Current students who will not be using the gym will not have to pay.


Elizabeth Charash is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at elizabeth.charash@uconn.edu.