MENOMONIE, Wis. (RELEASE) -- University of Wisconsin-Stout students on Thursday, April 11, through Friday, April 12, will have the opportunity to decide if they support three potential renovations to the university Sports and Recreation Complex.
The Stout Student Association is holding the advisory referendum. Three questions will ask for additional segregated student fees to fund more recreational space, and the fourth question will be to do no renovations to the complex.
Students will be voting in an online ballot sent via email. The ballot will be available from 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11, to 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12, according to Stout Student Association President Hannah Bragelman.
To alert students to the upcoming vote, three town hall-style meetings have been held. Social media through the student government Visibility and Outreach Committee will be used to remind students of the vote. Also, the SSA plans to have a table in the Memorial Student Center to hand out sample ballots and answer questions students may have, Bragelman said.
“It’s really important for students to vote and make a decision for those who are going to be here after them,” Bragelman said. “It’s 100 percent segregated fees going to the renovation. I think it’s important to decide it now and take it seriously.”
Currently, students pay a segregated fee of $2.95 per credit or $88.50 per year on a 30-credit load for the Sports and Recreation Complex. Proposed increases include the current rate. Charges would appear on students’ semester bills with tuition and fees.
Options students will vote on include:
• Option A: Recycle the unused pool area into a multiuse gymnasium and improve locker rooms, addressing such issues as shower quality, lack of privacy and gender neutral options and a shared space during events. This would add 6,800 square feet in recreational space and cost $6.85 million. The cost is $5.45 per credit in segregated fees or $163.50 on a 30-credit load, an increase of $75 per year over current fees.
• Option B: Everything from Option A and include 20,000 square feet of new space dedicated to fitness including strength training, cardio and fitness studio. The athletic weight room would be relocated to the current fitness center, and the existing athletic weight room would be converted to a multiuse studio and/or classroom space. There would be a single entry point to the facility for greater security. Fitness Center member fees would be eliminated for UW-Stout students, and segregated fees would sustain the facility operations and capital improvements. Cost of the project is $16.3 million. Segregated fees for the project would be $9.20 per credit or $276 a year of a 30-credit load, an increase of $187.50 per year.
• Option C: All of options A and B with an additional 20,000 square feet of new space for two second-floor multiuse courts, two studio gyms and a walking and jogging track. There would also be space dedicated to open recreation. Total cost is $25.5 million. Segregated fees would be $11.29 per credit or $338.50 per year on a 30-credit load, an increase of $250 per year.
• Option D: No renovations or fee increases.
Segregated fees gradually would be increased until construction begins, at which point segregated fees would remain at maximum prices through bond repayment, which will vary based on the option.
After the advisory vote, the SSA, which has 31 members, is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in Ballroom A of the Memorial Student Center to discuss the results. Depending on the outcome and the split of the vote, the senate could decide at that point to vote on implementing additional segregated fees or not or continue the discussion at a future meeting, Bragelman said. The Board of Regents would still have to approve any project.
Mackenzie Stutzman, UW-Stout associate director of recreation, said the original portion of the Sports and Recreation Complex was built in 1964. In 1989 an addition included the Multipurpose Room, racquetball courts, locker rooms and athletics weight room. In 2001, Stout Adventures, West Gym and the health and fitness center were added. North Point Fitness on north campus was added in 2011.
“This is a chance for the student body to make their voices heard on what they would like the future of our facility to be,” Stutzman said. “The facilities shape the programming and opportunities the students will have. A renovation of this size is something that can enhance opportunities for open recreation, enhance opportunities for more diverse and inclusive programming and increase retention rates for UW-Stout in the years to come.”
If a project is approved by students, construction could start in 2023 with an opening roughly 18 months later.
The Multipurpose Room, racquetball courts, gymnasium and field space are free for students now. The fitness center has a student membership fee of $130 for an academic year. The Student Stout Adventures climbing wall membership fee is $60 for the academic year. The health and fitness center in 2017-18 had 1, 773 members with 48,880 total annual visits.