University of Connecticut Students, staff and faculty gathered in the middle of the Recreation Center construction site for the Recreation Center Construction Kickoff this past Wednesday.
The ceremony drew a fairly large crowd of students, faculty and staff. The ceremony itself was short, and consisted of several speeches.
USG President Irma Valverde spoke about how Undergraduate Student Government had worked closely with the Board of Trustees to bring the project to life, and a student worker for the Recreation Center spoke about what the center meant to him and how it will affect students in the future.
“We wanted the opportunity to formally recognize that we’re engaged in the construction,” said Cyndi Costanzo, the Executive Director of UConn Recreation. “We thought it was a great opportunity to bring everyone on site, get a view and recognize students, their contributions and USG, what they’ve done.”
The current recreation center on campus has been a major issue for many UConn students. As the school increased in population, the gym was getting extremely crowded. USG had been working towards the new recreation center for several years, said Costanzo, so student input was very important in the construction of the new center.
“When you look at a project of this magnitude, that will require investment from students, it’s important that they believe in what they’re doing,” Costanzo said.
The new center will feature an indoor track, two pools, a climbing center and 30,000 square feet of fitness space, according to the UConn Recreation website. Costanzo recommended that students check out the model located in the Student Union to get a good idea on the size and amenities that will be in the new gym.
Jen Halleck, a seventh semester diagnostic genetic sciences major, who has worked in the Recreation Center since her sophomore year, was glad that the new center was designed with student opinions in mind.
“They’re going to be able to expand into other programs like BodyWise and the climbing center, so it’s really good that we are going to have such a big gym now,” Halleck said. “It’s really nice to see the connection to the staff and students and (UConn) listening to what the students want in their new gym.”
At the ceremony, students were able to get an idea of how large the Recreation Center is going to be. At 191,000 square feet the new Recreation Center promises to be significantly larger than the current center, which is only about 29,000 square feet. The new center is estimated to allow double the number of students the current one holds, according to Costanzo.
Devon Aldave, a fifth semester political science major, is one of the many students who will be graduating before the Recreation Center’s expected opening in Fall 2019. Despite this, he is still happy that the center will be enjoyed by future UConn students.
“Although I am not going to be here when it’s done, I’m excited for the future students. I am glad, as Irma said, that the future generation of students gets to appreciate it, and that our voices were heard,” Aldave said.
Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.