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Future renovations of HHP buildings await governor’s approval

February 5, 2007

Plans to construct an addition to the Hunt Arena and Knowles Center, and to reconstruct the existing buildings may begin to be sketched out if funding for the 2007-09 budget is approved and signed by Gov. Jim Doyle.

The $39 million project would provide, among many other improvements, a better space for the health and human performance program (HHP), a new pool and a new locker room.

Doyle is expected to officially release the state building list at the beginning of March.

The Board of Regents approved the proposal made by UW-River Falls administration in August, and has forwarded its recommendations to Doyle.

“We are hoping the governor will approve and move forward with the Board of Regents’ recommendations,” Chancellor Don Betz said. “The competition is stiff. Every UW institution has at least one project it wants funded by the state.”

Public Affairs Director Mark Kinders said in addition to all the UW institutions, 21 state agencies are competing.

“There are more projects in the pot than the government has the money for,” Betz said. “Our goal is to make sure our project proposal stays there and make it known how important it is to the campus.”

College of Education and Professional Studies Dean Connie Foster led a tour along with Kinders and Campus Planner Dale Braun Jan. 12 to inform four new Wisc. legislators about the University’s need for a new HHP building.

The legislators who embarked on the 90-minute tour through Karges Center and Nelson Physical Education Center were Sen. Pat Kreitlow, Rep. John Murtha, Rep. Anne Hraychuck and Rep. Jeff Smith.

UWRF officials showed the legislators the University’s swimming pool, one of several highlights on the tour.

“It is sort of a puke-green color,” Foster said. “The drains are corroding as well as the pool itself.”

UWRF senior Ali Miesen was a member of the UWRF swim team for three years.

She said the poor condition of the pool forces the team to hold all of its meets at River Falls High School.

“The pool is not adequate enough for a college Division III swim meet,” Miesen said.

She said a new and bigger pool with a diving board would allow the swim team to hold its meets at the University and would make the pool adequate for swimmers to practice in.

“The poor condition of the pool has hurt the team. Divers frequently choose other schools or end up quitting our team because there isn’t a place on campus for them to practice,” she said. “This puts the team at a disadvantage compared to other universities.”

UWRF is the only university in the UW system that has the original pool that was installed when the University first opened.

“We’re the only UW institution that doesn’t have a new pool,” Foster said.

Other important faults with Karges Center are the racquetball court, the classrooms and the gym.

The plaster is crumbling off the walls and ceiling in the racquetball court, the tile in the classrooms on the top floor is coming up, there is poor ventilation and the gym is too small, Foster said. Also, the gym doesn’t allow for handicap seating.

“It is a worn out building and is too small,” she said. “It was originally built for 1,500 students and now we have 6,000.  Additionally, our HHP program is one of the larger majors on campus.”

The program needs a bigger and a significantly better quality facility, she said.

The legislators also toured Emogene Nelson Physical Education Center where ventilation has been the biggest problem.

The training room is almost unusable as a result of poor ventilation, Foster said.

Other big problems with the building are the lack of locker rooms and showers, the classrooms are in bad shape, storage rooms are being used for offices because of the small amount of space, and the ceiling in the volleyball court is barely adequate.

“The building has out-aged itself by 15 years,” Foster said. “[Overall] I think the legislators realized the severe state of the facilities.”

If funding for the project is approved, construction would start sometime after July 1.