Survey: students want green recreation center

The majority of students who participated in a recent survey said that they support the construction of a new campus recreation center and want the building to be environmentally sustainable, according to results released last week.

Of the 2,624 students who participated in the 10-day survey sponsored by Portland State Campus Recreation, 65.5 percent voted for some form of a new recreation center, which is tentatively planned to be an eight-story, 122,066 square-foot facility that will include space for student activities, fitness and office space. Campus Recreation estimated that the building, slated to be built on Sixth Avenue where the PCAT building stands, will be operational by 2008.

Whether or not the recreation center should be built has been a controversial subject since a polarized student vote in the 2004 student government elections passed the referendum by only 12 votes, with 912 students opposing and 900 in favor of building the new facility. Many students opposed to the recreation center argued that the margin by which the referendum passed and the relatively small number of votes-1,812 of over 20,000 students-did not represent the student body that would have to pay $56 in student fees to build the facility.

The fee, originally planned to go into effect this fall, will now be implemented when the facility is operational.

In addition, 77.5 percent of those who participated in the survey said that they would pay an extra $2 per term for the building to have Gold LEED certification, a sustainability rating based on a variety of categories, including how much energy a building expends. The current plan is to build the structure with a Silver LEED certification. A Gold rating is the second highest rating, with Platinum being the highest rating and “Certified” being the lowest.

The survey was intended to gauge support for the project and to gather information about what students were willing to pay for, said Tony Rasmussen, communication coordinator for Campus Recreation. “Right now we are still in the beginning stages. We really wanted to make sure that this is something the student body wanted.”

The survey, designed by a facility planning company called Brailsford and Dunlavey, proposed three options from which students could choose. Thirty-nine percent of students chose the less expensive Option A, which carries a $56 fee increase per quarter for basic options such as exercise facilities. Twenty-six percent of participators chose Option B, which entails a $60 fee for additional space for student activities. Thirty-five percent chose Option C, indicating that they preferred that no recreation center be built and no new fee implemented.

Students chose “the proposed fees are higher than the proposed improvements are worth to me” as the number one reason they opposed the new recreation center. A close second choice was that they could not afford the new fee.

Rasmussen said that the new survey results will help them plan the center, which he said is still in the planning stages. “We will take the survey results and our plans back to the table and continue working with the Oregon University System and PSU on designing and brainstorming how we are going to build this thing.”