Students Propose Rec Center

By Ryan Rutledge and Tra Friesen in News

A new college building may soon be on its way.

A recreation center proposal with more than 800 signatures was presented to the Associated Students of Clark College by a small group of Clark students. Only 500 verified signatures are required for a vote, a goal that has been met according to ASCC President Dena Brill.

If approved, the proposed facility would be funded like the Penguin Union Building, through a $2 per credit quarterly fee. The current fee, which has been used to fund the PUB, will expire in December.

Three Clark College students, David Saldivar, Brittney Barton and Lyubov Meksheneva, submitted the petition to the ASCC in early February.

The petition states, “This facility would provide the Clark College student body with additional activity space and state-of-the-art health and wellness resources.”

Students would have an easier time finding a place to work out or play basketball because the new building would not be used for classes, said Director of Athletics Charles Guthrie.

“We have heard from students, not athletes, about why they can’t play basketball, why they can’t use the soccer field, why they can’t play ultimate frisbee or use the weight room at certain times,” Guthrie said.

Currently, the Thompson Fitness Center in O’Connell Sports Center costs $15 per quarter for any student not enrolled in a PE class. Guthrie said he believes the proposed facility would be free to all students.

“It’s all about student engagement and providing opportunities for retention, access and more student space,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie said the idea of the building wouldn’t be to increase student’s costs, but rather to immediately reinstate the fee after it expires for the PUB and fund another project that will serve the student body.

Projects like this can take several years to complete. Construction for the PUB began in Fall 2001 and was completed in 2005.

Guthrie also said that he believes the building would provide networking opportunities for recent grads. While he was Director of Gym Memberships at Columbia University, they had a program that allowed access to facilities for alumni that were fresh out of college.

“If our students are working out next to someone who works in a bank, that could be a job opportunity,” Guthrie said.

Students aren’t the only ones with limited access to O’Connell Sports Center. Intramurals, an ASCC-funded program, also faces scheduling conflicts with the current system.

“We don’t have a ton of open gym time,” said Director of Intramurals Garet Studer in a previous interview with The Independent. “We have classes that start at 8 in the morning until about 1 o’clock. Those are all PE classes, and then we have athletic practices in here.”

An exploratory committee is scheduled to tour sports facilities at Everett and Pierce Colleges during spring break, according to Director of Student Life Sarah Gruhler. Currently, there are no designs or plans for the proposed center at Clark.

Brill said she has heard rumblings of things like a rock climbing wall, a track or a glass wall that would allow people look outside while exercising, but stressed that any ideas are theoretical and no plans have been made yet.

If students approve the building, there are still several hoops officials would need to jump through.

“There’s a permit process they need to go through before construction,” said Erin Erdman, permit center manager for the City of Vancouver.

The recreational center project manager would have to request the city look at a preliminary plan which includes foundation layout, parking, water and sewer, Erdman said.

A final site plan and a civil plan would then be submitted for approval. Depending on the location, the project manager might need to apply for environmental and variance permits, according to Erdman. A variance permit exempts a project from some zoning or building codes.

After all those processes are finished, the college would get a building permit.

The proposal’s fate will be decided after ASCC advertises the student referendum for two weeks. Brill stressed that student input is necessary and important because the vote is decided by simple majority, regardless of the number of total votes.

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