Expansion plans for gym developing

By Ken Johnson
On February 18, 2014

Plans for the expansion of the Hamel Recreation Center have come a long way since the student forums last spring, but exact details are still uncertain at this time. 

"I know that students are anxious for us to make this happen and be open as soon as possible, which I understand," Stacey Hall, director of campus recreation, said. "Right now we are trying to balance making really good decisions and maximizing resources with a realistic time frame."

In the spring, open forums were held where students were shown potential future plans for the Hamel Recreation Center and to get student opinions on what should be included in the expansion and what direction off the current building the expansion should go, Hall said. 

The Hamel Recreation Center was originally built in the mid-1960s as Snively Arena, enclosing an open-air ice rink called Batchelder Rink created in the 1950s. Snively Arena was used as an ice rink until 1995, when the rink was relocated to the Whittemore Center. Snively Arena was renovated into a recreation and fitness facility and now called Hamel Recreation Center. 

"An expanded recreation service capability will have an enormously positive impact on campus recreation services and University Life in general," states the University of New Hampshire Hamel Student Recreation Center Renovation and Expansion Program of Requirements.

The first step after the forums was the creation of the University of New Hampshire Hamel Student Recreation Center Renovation and Expansion Program of Requirements ("Program Plan"), which is the first step for a project this size. The program plan is a roughly 500-page document detailing a listing of spaces that should be included, assessment of the current facilities and detailed technical reports about the existing structure, according to Hall. The program includes activity zones, free zone spaces and support zone spaces. The program plan incorporated the feedback from the student body and was completed around July, Hall said.

After the Program Plan was completed the schematic design phase began to decide how much of a building could be built while waiting to hear about what was going to happen with the UNH Outdoor Pool. According to Hall, the schematic design phase ended around the end of the fall semester.

A construction manager has been brought on to help determine more specific cost estimates. The information from the construction manager was due at the end of January, but the information is still being refined before it can be shared for more feedback, Hall said. 

According to Hall, the majority of the funding for the Hamel Recreation Center will come from a HEFA bond through the New Hampshire Health and Education Facilities Authority. The impact on the student fee is not known at this time, Hall said. Better cost information is necessary and other sources of funding are being looked into to reduce the impact on students, Hall said.

Three options are still being considered for which direction the expansion of the Hamel Recreation Center should go. One option is in the direction of the UNH Outdoor Pool, another direction is to the north, which would require going over wetlands and the other direction would go over the H parking lot, Hall said.

No decision has been made on the UNH Outdoor Pool yet there are still three options being considered for the UNH Outdoor Pool. One option would "retrofit" the pool and keep the full footprint, another option would reduce the pool to 16,000 square feet of water, and the last option would reduce the pool to 10,000 square foot of water, Hall said.

"There are options to build more rec center while we wait on the pool decision but it could be decided that we wait until the pool is decided, which honestly I think would help maximize student resources if we were to do that," Hall said. 

After the direction of the expansion and budget has been figured out then the internal building spaces discussions can begin, Hall said. 

"As soon as we have some answers we definitely are going to need a lot of student feedback on helping us make more of the detailed decisions," Hall said.


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