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Pending plans for Rodli remain undecided

November 15, 2007

Rodli Commons sits vacant, its halls no longer filled with the hustle and bustle of students and staff shuffling through its corridors.

“No final plans have been made for the next use of Rodli Hall,” Chancellor Don Betz said in an e-mail interview. “There have been several proposals considered, but no recommendation has emerged as the option for Rodli’s future. We are continuing discussions of the options.”

There may be no formal plans for the vacant Rodli Commons right now, but that doesn’t mean there are no plans whatsoever.

“There have been a number of [ideas] kind of thrown around recently,” Michael Stifter, the director of facilities management, said.

Among the options for Rodli are leasing the space, repurposing Rodli to accommodate the needs staff and students,or possibly using the area as a short term Health and Human Performance Facility, Stifter said.

Repurposing could involve a number of different plans for Rodli.

“By repurposing, that could mean a program or a set of services moved into it, either internal to campus or the lease opportunities somewhat off campus,” Stifter said. “The bottom line [is] it’s a pretty structurally sound, good building in many ways.”

Rodli may be structurally sound, but that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be demolished to build another facility on the site. The building was designed for food service, and that could be a challenge when it comes to figuring out what to do with it, Stifter said.

“In the end it could be that it is such a prime location, but it’s just not the kind of building we need there and you tear the thing down,” Stifter said. “That, to me, would be a very much last resort.”

The length of time it takes to do an extensive construction project is another aspect to consider when it comes to repurposing or demolishing Rodli. Remodeling, or putting additions on Rodli, when it’s all said and done, could take 10-15 years, Stifter said. The University Center project took about 10 years from the planning stage to completion, Stifter said.

The University Center’s Web site has some specifics about the planning and completion of the project.

“In 1998, a group of students on the new student center committee recognized the need to build an addition onto the existing Hagestad Student Center. It was determined that the size of the building addition needed was too big to be added to the existing Student Center. The new student center committee further researched options as part of the Campus-Wide Master Planning process,” according to the Web site.

The actual planning and the later construction on the University Center may have started in 1998, but the ideas for the University Center actually began earlier, Stifter said.

Regardless of what happens to Rodli, students will most likely be involved in the decision making process in some way, shape or form.

“Students want to [have] an active role in the building and kind of with the decision, when the time comes,” Student Senate President Derek Brandt said. “Right now, there’s not much we can do.”

Students would like to see the space be utilized for some kind of constructive purpose.

“I would like to see anything done with the Rodli building,” Sarah Michaelson, a UW-River Falls senior said. “Anything is better than just having it sit there and not be used.”