Curators approve new student recreation facility for UMSL

2012-06-27T00:05:00Z 2012-08-09T20:47:40Z Curators approve new student recreation facility for UMSLBY TIM BARKER • tbarker@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8350 stltoday.com

COLUMBIA, MO. • The University of Missouri-St. Louis is on its way to adding a new recreation and wellness center.

The $36 million project, which will be paid for by student fees, was approved Tuesday by the University of Missouri Board of Curators. The board also approved construction of a new residence hall at the University of Missouri-Columbia, which will be funded through student rent.

The new UMSL recreation center was touted as a way to attract and retain students. Curators have, in the past, expressed hesitation about adding new fees at a time when rising college costs are drawing widespread criticism. But this one went through with little comment, largely because students have asked for it.

"This is one where the students who will be paying for it have voted overwhelmingly to pay for it," said Curator Don Downing of Webster Groves.

In March, there was a campus referendum in which students voted nearly 2 to 1 in favor of a new fee to pay for the project. More than 1,500 students voted on the issue.

"For our students, that's a huge turnout," said UMSL Chancellor Thomas George, noting that typical student elections draw around 500 voters.

Students will pay a fee of $19.25 per credit hour, with a cap of 12 hours each semester. The fee will not go into effect until the center opens in mid- to late 2015. Construction is expected to start next summer.

The 94,000-square-foot center, to be built south of the Millennium Student Center, will feature a six-lane swimming pool, weight and cardio rooms, elevated jogging track, three basketball courts, a locker room, a wellness center and a juice bar.

The new $28.4 million residence hall at Mizzou is part of the school's ongoing efforts to cope with rising enrollment. On-campus housing shortages have forced the school to push some upperclassmen into off-campus housing and to find alternative housing for some new students.

The 92,400-square-foot residence hall would be built between College Avenue and Virginia Avenue. The five-story building would house 330 students.

Funding would come from Residential Life reserves and through bonds that would be covered through student rent.

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