Regents set to approve plans for aquatic center

Friday, December 16, 2005

The regents will meet at 10 a.m. today at the University Center.

The board of regents will vote today on revised plans for an aquatic center at Southeast Missouri State University that should cut costs by more than $640,000 and keep the project within budget, school officials said.

The regents will meet at 10 a.m. in the University Center Ballroom.

School president Dr. Ken Dobbins said the revised design plans will keep the project's total cost at $8.2 million. That price tag includes an estimated $6.6 million for actual construction and about $1.57 million for architectural fees, construction management and contingencies.

Southeast plans to finance the project with bonds that would be retired with money from student fees.

On Sept. 1, the regents approved plans for the 28,000-square-foot aquatic center that included an irregular-shaped recreational pool, water slide and a 25-yard lap pool. Those elements are still in the revised plan, but with some changes to save costs, Dobbins said.

The university plans to scale back a proposed glass wall on the north side of the building. Only part of the wall now will be glass, saving $100,000, Dobbins said.

Elimination of a small, leisure pool on an upper level will save another $100,000, he said. But a planned waterfall will be retained, Dobbins said.

Scott Meyer, Southeast's facilities management director, said a secondary leisure pool had to be taken out of the plans to save money. "That was just one of the casualties," he said.

By eliminating the upper pool, Meyer said, the university won't have to install a lift for physically handicapped students as otherwise would have been required under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The federal law doesn't require the university to make the water slide accessible to the handicapped, said Meyer.

Lowering the roof level will save $106,000, school officials said.

The university expects to cut about $50,000 from the expense of a water slide. Dobbins said the slide will empty into the recreational pool. Originally it would have carried over to the lap pool.

Those items coupled with other construction savings in everything from roofing to stairs will keep the project within budget, Dobbins said.

Work set to start in May

Construction is expected to start in May on the addition to the Student Recreation Center. The building should be completed by April 2007, officials said.

Adam Hanna, student government president, said the changes won't eliminate any of the important features of the aquatic center. Students want a place to swim and socialize, he said.

"I think it is going to be a cool facility," he said.

At today's board meeting, the regents also are expected to hire Paric Corp. of St. Louis to handle construction management on the project and authorize the issuance of bonds.

Dobbins said the bonds would be issued through the Missouri Development Finance Board. He expects the bonds will be retired over 20 years.

Student fees will retire the bonds and pay for operation of the aquatic center, a project that has the backing of student government.

The regents last April voted to raise student general fees by $2 a credit hour each year for the next five school years. The money would fund the aquatic center, provide more money for athletics and fund weekend and evening activities for students.

By fall 2009, students will pay $20.70 a credit hour in general fees in addition to tuition charges.

When fully implemented, the fee increases are expected to generate nearly $2 million annually in added revenue, officials said.

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