The Cal Poly Recreation Center will be closed for approximately seven months starting in June, said executive director of Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Rick Johnson at the ASI Board of Directors meeting on Feb. 23. The current University Union (UU) fee of $133.13 will remain part of tuition despite the gym being closed.
Johnson said the Recreation Center closure will take place immediately following the spring commencement ceremonies and will remain closed throughout the Summer and Fall 2011 quarters.
Director of ASI programs Marcy Malone said this is a mandatory step toward finishing the Recreation Center construction, which is slated to be completed in December.
“We were able to make it a fitness area for as long as possible,” Malone said. “We knew at some point the contractors would need it back.”
In contradiction to Malone’s statement, when the students voted on the two-year-long expansion in February 2008, it was initially said the Recreation Center would remain open. In fact, one of the top 10 reasons argued to support the referendum was that, “The Recreation Center will remain open during construction, although the entrance may change and some components will be offline during the expansion,” according to the ASI Recreation Center Expansion FAQ’s Web page.
Business administration junior Kaitlyn Dondero said Fall quarter will be the most difficult time for the Recreation Center to be closed.
“It will be frustrating to not have somewhere to go and have a break especially during Fall quarter when people are going to want to come back and use the gym,” she said.
But the desire to finish the construction on time means handing the Recreation Center over to the contractors is a necessary step at this point, Malone said.
“The great news is that means it looks like the project is on time and it’s the last final push,” Malone said. “This will be the most minimal impact since the beginning. If we only had one quarter of major impact in a two-year project that’s something we’re really proud of.”
During the closure period the facility serving as the temporary gym will undergo necessary renovations. Malone said it took two to three months to convert that facility into the temporary gym. However, the reconversion process is expected to take an additional three months because of the renovations being made.
The main floors will be taken out and additional floor, roof and paint work will be done to reconvert that facility into basketball courts and a weightlifting area — what the area was before construction started.
Chair of the University Union Advisory Board Lorin Torbitt said closing the Recreation Center is necessary to get the construction done on time and correctly. Once it became known that the contractors would need the entire facility to finish construction, the University Union Advisory Board tried to have it take place only during summer, she said.
“While it’s unfortunate (that the Recreation Center will close), particularly during fall quarter because during summer impact will be pretty low, we have to hand it off to the contractors so by January we have the facility,” Torbitt said. “Up to this point, we’ve done the best we can to keep it open as much as possible.”
Chris Murphy, a civil engineering junior, said since the Recreation Center will be closed Cal Poly should offer students alternatives for working out.
“Cal Poly should relocate equipment for us to workout somewhere else on campus,” Murphy said.
Another concern among students is the $65 increase to the University Union fee beginning once the new facility opens. Torbitt said the University Union Advisory Board has done its best not to implement the fee so far.
Malone said the current University Union fee will remain because it is a part of the fee system.
“This money is part of a fiscal package and getting the expansion done,” Malone said. “The fee is the fee is the fee.”
Vince Benvin, a biomedical engineering junior who regularly works out at the Recreation Center, said the university is not doing its best to inform students whenever changes occur with Recreation Center construction.
“(ASI) hasn’t done as good of a job as possible to communicate with the students about updates and a timeline,” Benvin said.
He said this is important because at any other gym members would not be forced to pay when they do not have access to facilities.
“They shouldn’t allow the fees to be implemented if we can’t have access to the gym for essentially half a year,” Benvin said. “This is definitely unfair since we’re paying for the Recreation Center to be built.”
But not all students feel the same.
Matty Moriates, an industrial engineering junior, said he focuses on the other facilities the fees still pay for on campus.
“The way I see it is that the Recreation Center incorporates a lot more than just the gym, like intramurals and the sports complex,” he said.
Even so, Murphy said if Cal Poly is not willing to relocate fitness equipment, the university should find another alternative for students.
“Since the fees aren’t being reduced, (Cal Poly) should provide us with off-campus gym memberships,” Murphy said.
Even though students are still required to pay this fee, local gyms might see an increase in membership from students willing to pay additional money for gym access.
Club 24 manager Sanaz Rahimi said although she was unaware of the closure until the Mustang Daily’s call, she wants students looking for other gym options to consider Club 24 because of its convenience (it is the closest gym to Cal Poly, located on Foothill Boulevard), among other reasons.
In the past, ClUb 24 has waived the enrollment fee for Cal Poly students unable to access the Recreation Center. Rahimi said this is an option the gym will consider, especially after seeing students come to the facility the last time the Recreation Center was closed from June to September 2009.
“A lot (of students) replied that at first they could just run outside and do sit-ups at home, but day after day that workout routine becomes monotonous,” Rahimi said. “So, having a facility where you can have a locker room, inclusive equipment and classes will definitely help. There’s only so much you can do outside.”
As far as alternative forms of exercise on campus, Anderson Pool will remain open during certain hours for lap swimming, and intramural sports will still take place. Malone said ASI will look for alternative ways to keep students active as well.
“We haven’t gotten that far yet,” Malone said. “This is jut really the beginning stages of informing.”