New campus rec center could bring parking woes to a head

Updated plans for the new Campus Recreation Center were released at the Student Government Association meeting Monday, Nov. 11.

Matt Hackett, director of campus recreation, spoke to the organization, saying that the university is attempting to transform what he called “the world’s largest concrete box” into “something more bright and open and interesting for students.”

Construction is set to start in March 2014, according to Steve Nienaber, university architect, and “substantial construction” will be completed by summer of 2015.

However, this won’t come without some headaches for students in the beginning.

Several university officials, including Hackett, Dean of Students Jeffrey Waple and VIce President of Administration and Finance Ken Ramey, have confirmed that several currently utilized parking lots will be closed down.

The gravel lot behind the current Campus Recreation Center will be closed starting Jan. 1, 2014, according to Waple, and most of the additions to the building will occur where that lot is currently.

Lot G, behind the softball field, will also be closed, for parking for the construction workers. However, that will open back up when construction is completed.

Ramey said that there will be, and already is, plenty of parking available for students and faculty members. He recommended that students utilize the gravel lot behind the garage on Kenton Drive and the parking lot by Callahan Hall, where students can then catch the shuttle over to campus.

“It may not be necessarily as close to a building or a facility as some would like,” Ramey said, “but we do have parking that will be available.”

However, Ramey said that there are no plans currently to pave the gravel lot behind the garage, despite its potential increased traffic.

Ramey said, “The long-term plan is that garage can be expanded, so it would come out a bit, as well as go up, I believe, another floor.”

There is not a timeline for an expansion of that garage, according to Ramey, and the first garage to be expanded would be the garage next to the University Center.

“You’re going to have to bear with us for a while,” Waple said. “The parking decks will probably fill up quicker, there’s the parking behind the parking deck. People are going to have to park in different spots, because that area’s not coming back.”

Waple said that the entire parking plan should be released within the next few weeks, including a traffic plan created with the help of the police department and parking services, around Thanksgiving.