By Karl Zabinski
Campus Eye staff
This may be the last semester Cambridge students can take badminton and other fitness classes that require a large gym.
Renovations begin on May 19 to bring the Fitness Center back to campus. Along with that move, the college is ending a contract to use the Armed Forces Reserve and Community Center, according to Facilities Director Roger Freeman.
Smaller health classes that can use the new fitness center may continue.
Actual construction and renovation will not interfere with students’ classes, since the work will begin immediately after finals week.
The Fitness Center will move into Building E, and will occupy the space currently designated as classrooms E124 and E125. The dividing wall between the two classrooms will be removed, the current doorways eliminated, and a new entrance cut into the west wall of E125, near the current doors to outside the building, Freeman said.
While the renovation will displace two classroom areas, lower enrollment rates mean that only one room needs to be replaced. To compensate for the lack of teaching space, F205 will be renovated as well, creating a more open learning and teaching environment, rather than a computer lab.
Freeman said that he expects the project to be completed by the beginning of August.
College officials began planning the move more than a year ago.
The current situation of the Fitness Center is less than ideal, for all parties involved. According to Student Activities Coordinator Cindi Gilbert, the City of Cambridge, which was managing the Fitness Center, “wants nothing to do with it,” and has returned possession of the exercise equipment to the college.
In addition, students have a great inconvenience is utilizing the Fitness Center, most notably being the distance of travel to access it. Gilbert explained that, during the summer, it is not such an unpleasant walk to the Armory.
However the winter months, of which there are many in Minnesota, are a completely different story. With frequently dangerous road conditions, polar temperatures, and demobilizing snowstorms, few students, if any, are willing or even able to access the Fitness Center in its current facility.
An additional danger to students is the fact that crossing of a high-use county road is required in order to get to the Fitness Center from the campus. Gilbert said one proposed solution included constructing a pedestrian bridge in order to create a safe method of access for students. The bridge was turned down, with costs and ease of access still compromised.
Gilbert says that the renovation and move back to campus will offer an incentive for students to attend ARCC, because of the ease of access, new times of availability, and how modern the facility will be. Some new equipment may be purchased as well, she said.
Having the Fitness Center directly on campus will allow students to access the facility for the whole day, instead of only the morning and afternoon class periods currently available.
The renovation will include installation of a sound system, a step up from the current boom box and CD player setup. Other technology included in the plan is to have three televisions suspended from the ceiling. Students can be proud of the change. Gilbert said she’s “excited.”
“I can’t wait for it. People will really appreciate it,” she said.
Freeman also said he was also excited to begin the project. He said the college is also working on a Facilities web page that would include updates and information about the Fitness Center and other college facilities.