Plan might expand rec center


A plan to expand NIU’s Recreation Center needs the support of students to succeed.

The plan would triple the weight room space and add two all-purpose gymnasiums to the rec center. However, Recreation Center Director Juliette Moore said all plans to expand the rec center are dependent on student support.

“The success or failure of the plan is in the hands of the students,” Moore said.

Student Association President Abe Andrzejewski said he is in favor of the expansion because the rec center is overcrowded and needs the extra space.

Since the 1986-87 school year, rec center use has increased from about 263,000 to 329,440 students annually. Moore said the rec center needs to expand to continue to adequately serve NIU students.

Andrzejewski agreed the success of the plan would depend on student support. According to Andrzejewski, a petition is being circulated around campus that will serve as a campus referendum on the issue.

Moore said the plan will not be brought before NIU’s governing board, the Board of Regents, for approval unless it receives strong student support. She said the petitions need about 7,000 signatures.

Under the plan, student fees for the rec center would be increased by 45 cents per credit hour, or about $5.40 more a semester.

Moore said the expansion primarily would be funded by borrowing on bond money which was originally targeted for the Campus Life Building and the parking structure.

The money is available because construction bids for the two projects came in lower than expected.

Moore said the bond money has to be spent within a certain time frame and must be spent on construction. If the money is not spent to expand the rec center, it will be spent on another construction project.

Moore said the bond situation, coupled with low interest rates, is a golden opportunity for the rec center to expand at low cost to students.

Andrzejewski said if it weren’t for the low interest rates and the bond opportunity, the cost of the project to students would be much higher.

“I think supporting the expansion of the rec so that more students can use it will save the students money because it will still be cheaper than if they joined a private club,” he said.

Moore said because refinanced bond money is being used, there is a time constraint on how long the construction can take.

She said if the plan is approved by the Regents, the expansion could be completed by the spring of 1995.

She said if the plan fails, the rec center might have to restrict the number of people who can use it at one time.

“If the plan fails we’ll have to deal with overcrowdedness, but we can’t have a safety risk,” Moore said.