Rec administrators, architects develop “master plan”

By Gus Bode

In response to the scheduled loss of recreation facilities due to Saluki Way, administrators and architects have developed what they call a “master plan” for campus recreation.

Click here to see a map of the “master plan” and Saluki Way.

Current plans for Saluki Way, a massive overhaul of campus, would cause the university to lose six of 12 tennis courts, three of six playing fields and a cricket pitch. The “master plan” would allow the university to maintain its current number of facilities and add new elements, such as adapted fitness trails, restrooms and a band shelter, said Willie Ehling, director of recreational sports and services. A proposed $25.60 per semester increase in the Campus Recreation Fee, currently $6, would pay for the plan.

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Ehling said the fee increase would last for six years under the plan if approved by the RSS advisory committee. At the end of six years, he said, the extra money will drop off the fee.

“Any time, $25 is a lot of money. In this environment, it’s an ugly request. My job, however, was to say, ‘We have an opportunity for land,'” Ehling said. “This land will be gone and allocated for other purposes if we don’t have a master plan for outdoor recreation.”

The Saluki Way plan calls for a new football stadium to be constructed on top of three lighted playing fields and 12 tennis courts. Ehling said $1.2 million of the project’s $83 million budget would pay to relocate six of the tennis courts as well as all three playing fields.

However, current plans would move the three lighted playing fields on top of three unlighted fields used by some of the university’s 47 sports clubs, Ehling said. The university’s only cricket pitch would also be lost during relocation.

Ehling, who began working at the university in July, said recreation staff expressed concern about Saluki Way to him during the interview process. Since he took the job, he said, he has been working with administrators and architects to understand and respond to Saluki Way.

“From the time I got to campus, I was after information on what was the real situation,” Ehling said. “I knew there was an opportunity for me to help.”

Undergraduate Student Government President Demetrous White said he believed the plan would be a third way to charge students for Saluki Way.

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White said students already pay for the plan through the Intercollegiate Athletic fee, as well as the half-percent increase in Carbondale’s sales tax. The tax increase, approved in August, will allow the city to contribute $1 million per year for the next 20 years to Saluki Way.

“They’re saying Saluki Way is taking fields and we need to come out of our pockets and pay again. I don’t buy that,” White said. “I don’t support it and I think that for the most part, the student body is behind that.”

Rick Findley, who works for 360 Architecture, worked closely with Ehling and others to develop the plan.

Findley said the amount of open space and forested land surrounding the university made it unique among other campuses around the world. The master plan could help make the most of those assets, Findley said.

“The master plan looks at everything that’s there, all the available land, and tries to maximize its use,” Findley said. “It does really look at all of the facilities on campus.”

Chiquita Watts said she supports the plan, but not the attached fee increase.

Watts, a junior from Chicago studying finance, is the executive director of Student Programming Council. She is also a USG senator representing the College of Business and Administration.

Watts said she planned to vote against the fee increase at the organization’s next meeting Wednesday.

“It’s a nice gesture, but we’re here to get a degree,” Watts said, referring to the new facilities.

Amber Manning said she supports the master plan even though she will graduate before new facilities could be built.

Manning, a graduate student from Lanark studying educational psychology, works with sport clubs as a graduate assistant.

“(The plan) will allow all of our sport clubs to have newer, better facilities,” Manning said. “Fee increases, in my opinion, are inevitable. It never really worries me when I hear ‘fee increase’ because I feel any university I would be at, that would be the case.”

Ehling said he hoped to speak personally with more students about the plan.

“I’ve been here six months. I haven’t had a chance to build relationships with students, for students to trust me,” Ehling said. “How I was trained and how I have been successful is students. Students have some of the best ideas.”

Ehling said he planned to attend the USG meeting Wednesday, at which senators are scheduled to vote on student fee increases.

The SIU Board of Trustees must vote to affirm the fee increases before they become effective. Fee increases are scheduled to appear before the board in February.

The board will vote on the increases in April.

Allison Petty can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 259 or [email protected]

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