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A good way to measure a project’s success is to check in with those who opposed it in the beginning and see what they think at the end.
By that measure, Red Rocks Community College’s newly opened student recreation center is already a smashing success.
“So many of the students who’ve told me if they’d had the chance to vote on it, they wouldn’t have spent the money on the rec center have done a total 180,” said Sean Ross, president of the college’s student government. “A healthy student is a happier student, and that will make them more successful in class.”
Work on the $10.2 million addition to the college’s main building was finished in June. And the ensuing two months have given the college the opportunity to spread the word about the state-of-the-art facility to faculty and all fees-paying students.
“We wanted to focus on the student part of this whole thing, so right now we’re only open to our students, including those who study online and in Arvada,” said Kirk Fallon, director of the recreation center. “A lot of our commuter students just drive here, go to class and leave again, and may not even come to this side of the building, so we want people to know it’s here for them.”
The rec center’s roots go back to 2012, when the school finished the Students Health Clinic. Interest in a better recreation center started almost immediately, as the area the college had at the time was just 2,000 square feet and only had space for free weights and cardio.
For much of 2013 and into 2014, students hosted a variety of workshops, surveys and informational events to elicit input on the project.
They determined the best way to pay for the project was a fee increase for all students of about $115 per semester. The idea had to be voted on by the student body, and in May 2015, was approved by a 70 percent margin. The vote had the largest turnout of any ballot issue in the college’s history, Ross said.
The fees the students pay will provide the necessary funds for construction, staff and upkeep for the next 30 years. Non-fee paying students (such as online and Arvada students) may opt in and pay the per-semester recreation center fee.
“We wanted to eliminate as many barriers as possible for our students,” Fallon said. “Even if they’re hesitant, once they visit, it’s like a switch gets flipped.”
The 38,000-square-foot, two-story building was designed by Davis Partnership Architects and built by Pinkard Construction Company.
Students had a lot of say on what would be in the center. The end result is a gym, climbing and bouldering wall, exercise studios, cardio/strength equipment spaces, outdoor fitness deck, meeting rooms, offices and student gathering areas.
It will also play host to a seasonal rotation of intramural sports, including volleyball, basketball, ultimate Frisbee and outdoors Ping-Pong.
Most of Red Rocks’ physical education classes will be held in the center, and its front desk and some free classes will be taught by students.
“I started working here because I want to get in the health and fitness industry,” said Sam Shepherd, a second-year student at Red Rocks. “This place is incredible, and there’s something for everyone.”
Even though the center has only been open for a couple of months, the school sees all manner of potential coming from the building.
“Everything is in its infancy,” Fallon said. “There’s no telling how it will grow from here.”
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