The $20 million recreation and events center was overwhelmingly approved by the student body in the Jan. 20 special election.
A school record 16.68 percent of the electorate voted, with over 80 percent voting to approve the measure by a count of 1,213-to-327 out of an eligible voting pool of 9,234 students.
The 2004 ASEWU General Election previously held the record for highest voter turnout, with 15.8 percent.
The measure to understand student sentiment on the project may make way for the implementation of a $165 annual student fee if given EWU Board of Trustees approval.
The recreation center will include a 50-50 partnership with EWU and its students. However, only 29.3 percent of EWU’s annual $150 million budget comes from state appropriations.
The remaining 60.7 percent of EWU’s budget comes from tuition, fees and alumni gifts.
EWU Associate Vice President of Business Services Rick Romero and student Jason Clerget helped conceive and develop the idea of the recreation center for the Jan. 20 vote. Romero and Clerget expect to present their plan, after approval by student voters, to the EWU BOT Feb. 4. From there, the fee will have to go through the Student and Activities Committee.
“I’m just really proud of our students,” said Romero.
He said he was happy with the students’ level of support and vision for the project.
“Everyone seems to be happy with the outcome,” Romero said.
The high percentage of positive votes shows how interested and excited students are for the new recreational center, Romero said.
Clerget said that students who came to the polls were well informed on the proposed project.
He said he was proud of how many students took the time out to vote.
Even though the vote is over, Clerget will continue to help with the project.
“I will fill in whenever the project needs assistance,” he said.
“He (Jason) had a huge part in developing ideas” and was not just the marketing behind the vote, Romero said.
Romero said that the recreation center still is expected to open on January 2007, with construction beginning July of this year.
The project could break ground as early as July 2005. The proposed $165 annual fee ($55 per quarter) would only be implemented after the recreational facility is operational. The potential date for the recreational center’s opening could be as soon as January 2007.
The recreation center’s preliminary design calls for a 225-car parking garage, juice bar and a multi-purpose floor which can be transformed into ice to play hockey, hardwood for concerts and indoor turf for football and soccer. It will also include a third-level for a running track surface, a studio and an area for a strength and conditioning center. There are also plans for 2,200-seat foldout bleachers as well as an elevated walk-way that stretches from the building to the Pence Union Building.
The $165 fee is not set in stone and can either go up or down because of potential construction costs such as the fluctuating price of steel.
The recreation center vote is the second taken on the project.
The first vote, in Feb. 19, 2004, was approved 775-to-613.
The initial ballot question was whether to approve a $35 per quarter fee for renovation of the PHASE.
The new recreation center is planned for the opposite side of Washington Street, currently where the married student court now sits. The married student court, which has been open since 1957 would either have been condemned or in need in major renovation in order to continue operation had the new recreation center not been planned there.
Open forums were held on the recreational center project Jan. 12 and Jan. 19, including a 30 minute question and answer session by Romero and Clerget in the Jan. 19 clubs and organizations meeting.
Polling centers were available in all of the halls via front desk computers, rather than the use of laptops.
A $300 pizza party on the line for the hall with the most voter participation. However, students did not have to vote in their halls in order for dorm participation to be counted.
Students were counted via their student identification numbers, which were then cross-referenced with the hall they reside in.
The information was updated after Jan. 10 in order to ensure that no student was counted for a hall they no longer resided in.
ASEWU President Travis Nichols said this was due to the setup time involved.
“The goal there was basically to utilitize the front desk computers,” Nichols said. “All of the front desk computers had their I.P. addresses sourced out, so we knew who was participating. The data’s the same, so there were no security issues.”