Minnesota West optimistic about funding for field house
WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota West Community and Technical College President Richard Shrubb said Wednesday he's "pretty optimistic" about the college's chances to get bonding money this year to renovate and expand the Worthington campus field house.
His optimism comes one day after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton outlined his plans for a $775 million bonding bill. Included in the governor's proposal is $4.6 million for the local project.
"We're No. 4 on the list of priorities," said Shrubb, explaining that the top priorities cater to projects that target energy efficiency. Both the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system and Dayton have the project listed as their fourth priority.
Plans for the renovation and expansion of the field house were developed more than six years ago. They include 10,000 square feet of new construction to include two classrooms, an expanded gym floor, an additional restroom and connection to the Worthington Area YMCA. An additional 15,000 square feet would be renovated, including the existing locker room and public restroom facilities.
"We haven't changed any of the blueprint plans at all," said Shrubb, adding that any alteration to the plans would push the project back to the bottom of the stack of proposals legislators must go through in determining what projects will get bonding money.
Since Minnesota West is a state college, its building projects have to be approved by the legislature. As for this particular project, Shrubb said it is a Title 9 requirement -- the field house must be brought into compliance to allow men and women equal resources in sports programming.
"When the facility we have now was built in the 1970s, women's sports weren't as prevalent in the U.S. as they are today," he said.
The renovation would allow for the women to have their own training and locker rooms. At this time, the facility doesn't have a locker room for visiting teams, so the women's locker facility is used to meet that need.
"We also want the field house to be more generally serving to the community," said Shrubb. The field house expansion would connect it to the Worthington Area YMCA to create one large facility -- an advantage to both the Minnesota West campus and the YMCA.
Bonding representatives have already toured the Worthington campus and looked at the plans for the expanded and renovated field house, and another tour of the existing facility was conducted in early December, Shrubb said.
"The only thing left is legislative approval," he said, adding that campus officials "remain in constant contact with our legislators."
Shrubb encourages constituents to also speak with local legislators Sen. Doug Magnus and Rep. Rod Hamilton to request their support of Minnesota West's inclusion in the bonding bill.
"We want to make sure that southwest Minnesota gets served by our legislature in St. Paul equally with other parts of the state," Shrubb said. "For us to be asking for this project since 2006 represents our commitment to this project and our hope that legislators will recognize our commitment to this project."
If the bonding money is approved for the Minnesota West field house, Shrubb said construction could start almost immediately.
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