Construction of new UConn recreational center must stay on track

Construction continues at the site of the former Connecticut Commons dormitory. The site will reopen in the fall of 2019 as the new recreation center. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

There have been repeated concerns that the construction of the new UConn Recreation Center, slated to open by January 2019, may face delays and more obstacles. The construction project has been a hefty undertaking for the University of Connecticut, included in the Master Plan.

According to Board of Trustees member Tom Ritter, the Board has been interested in building a new one for “six or seven years.” Originally approved by the Board in the fall of 2013, the facility was expected to cost a total of approximately $100 million – with $500,000 initially allocated then for the planning stages, and an addition $2 million approved in October of 2015. Much of the cost will be paid for by student fee increases, negotiated by USG, to begin with the class that will benefit and use the new facility itself.

According to an April 2016 report by The Daily Campus, the new recreational facility is set to be approximately five times as spacious as the current gym with a variety of amenities. The 2015 Master Plan list’s initial planning for the gym includes “cardiovascular and strength training facilities, multipurpose sports areas, a gymnasium, a pool and aquatics center, indoor and outdoor space for club sports, a wellness center and flexible space for events and activities.”

Many members of the UConn community have been excited by the prospect of a new gym. The construction of a new one is certainly a praiseworthy undertaking by the university, promoting the health of the student body and replacing the current gym which is old and often crowded, causing many students to buy memberships to outside gyms instead. With an undergraduate student population alone of nearly 20,000, it is largely inadequate. While a large project, it must be a priority that the university completes its construction on time. Delays are costly financially, adding to the fees future students will have to pay to compensate. However, it is also costly in lost time and access to current students studying at UConn.

The university was able to build the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center in relatively much less time. With the demolition of Connecticut Commons taking place soon after commencement in May, there is a large construction area in the middle of the campus, which is both an inconvenience and not aesthetically pleasing. Since demolition has been completed, it is reasonable to expect the university to be ready to commence with the next stage of completion of the Rec Center, which is construction.