Rec center vote in jeopardy

A reinterpretation of the ASPSU constitution has put a student vote on a new recreation center in jeopardy for next week’s student body elections.

Potential approval of the $30 million project is dead for this year unless the student senate votes Wednesday to put it on the ballot. The rec center advocates thought they had smooth sailing if they turned in a petition minus signatures two weeks in advance of the voting. Initially, Aaron O’Donnell, chair of the election committee, had offered this interpretation of the constitution.

O’Donnell said he revisited the constitution after inquiries. His second opinion was that the required number of student signatures – estimated at 2400 — must also be filed two weeks in advance. Christy Harper, a leader in the rec center proposal, said it was the group’s understanding it had a week and a half past the petition filing deadline to collect the required signatures.

The group asked the senate to vote on whether or not to allow the rec center on the upcoming ballot. The issue will be put before the senate at its Wednesday meeting. To pass, two thirds of the senate, or 17 members, must vote yes.

“Voting yes doesn’t mean a senator endorses the rec center,” Harper said. “It just means the senator is voting to put it on the ballot.”

If the measure does make it to the ballot, a favorable vote at the election will not be binding but will serve as an advisory to the chancellor of higher education. From there it would be a case of running it through the usual construction approval process. The project has been cooking for more than a year. Last year a comprehensive architectural study was introduced.

The center, if built, would be targeted to open in 2007. It would be located on a full block at Southwest Market Street between 11th and 12th avenues. Students would eventually be assessed a fee of an estimated $52 a quarter to use the center. The center proposal calls for a state of the art recreational facility. The complex would offer such amenities as intramurals, club sports, meetings, a three-court gymnasium, a three-lane running track, a two-court synthetic floor gym for floor hockey and indoor soccer, a large fitness facility, an aquatic complex and other features as determined by architectural studies.

An addition, to be paid for by the university, would include five floors of student housing.