UNF Student Assembly Center canceled in favor of new competition pool, additional shelters to come to Lot 18

Sam Chaney, Managing Editor

The construction of the long-awaited Student Assembly Center, which was announced in June of 2017, has officially been canceled. Director Paul Stewart of the Department of Campus Planning and Design gave no explanation as to why the project had been terminated, confirming only that the funds originally intended for the center will now be allocated to a new project: an exterior competition pool complex.

The new project “includes public restrooms/locker rooms, [a] controlled entrance, offices, support services, and all associated pool equipment and mechanical space,” according to the Space Committee’s project timeline. The committee is currently seeking a design team for construction observation purposes but, beyond that, no concrete timeline has been established for the complex.

Additionally, Stewart addressed the Space Committee and affirmed that the University is $1.1 million over budget in their project to renovate the Science and Engineering Building.

Sam Chaney
The Space Committee discussed the timeline for various campus renovations and projects.

“With the tariffs, prices just keep escalating,” Stewart explained. “[The renovations] will not be complete for Fall of ‘19. Our next window is Spring of ‘20.”

The University is likely to commence in fundraising in order to compensate for the higher-than-expected budget expenses.

In terms of other funding trouble, the project for a 500-bed housing facility for honors students has seen no changes. “We’ve let this one sit idle based on how we’re not ready to move forward on funding and capacity needs,” Stewart said about the renovations.

Additionally, road extensions on campus were confirmed for future implementation but were also over budget by $1 million. The committee is currently seeking external bids in order to complete the construction upon Dec. 19, as originally expected.

Meanwhile, the upcoming UNF downtown campus in the Barnett Building is also underway, encompassing both business classrooms as well as a new Entrepreneurial Center. According to Stewart, the building’s interior is in the process of being painted, with storefront and entry doors being installed on Nov. 15 and furniture being delivered on Dec. 3 and 4.

Shari Shuman, the Vice President of Administration and Finance, also requested that the committee confirm the number of students enrolling in the upcoming Barnett classes, as the University has an agreement with the City of Jacksonville itself regarding the number of people who will be actively using the space. The University expects the building to be open upon the start of classes in January of 2019.

Finally, the committee touched on the upcoming renovations coming to Roy Lassiter Hall (Bldg. 8), which includes remodeling of the existing Chick-Fil-A space. Renovations to the Osprey dining favorite will start in May of 2019 after Spring graduation and will reach completion by the end of Summer B.

The Auxiliary Oversight Committee also launched into usual business, approving all budget requests put on the table for the Nov. 14 meeting.

Sam Chaney
The Auxiliary Oversight Committee approved of all requests discussed on the Nov. 14 meeting.

Among the approved requests were a budget increase for UNF’s Public Opinion Research Lab, a request for additional expenses to complete renovations to the Herbert University Center in the next two years and a request for additional shuttle shelters at Lot 18.

The new shelters are for those students who are left in the dark and at a physical distance from campus upon parking in the large gray lot. All Lot 18 shelters will also be switching from solar powered panels to AC-powered LED light fixtures, as the lights are not currently capable of retaining power till the 3 a.m. shuttle closures, and also don’t reach the minimum one-foot-candle of lighting required per space.

The UNF Golf Complex also requested that UNF students be allowed to play on the campus golf course for free on weekdays (not including the driving range), as the course itself is considered underutilized and the staff there aims to increase student engagement. This request was approved without argument by the committee.

Finally, the committee approved of a request for $61,720 in order to keep the current ID card system running between May and June. The current contract for the system was implemented in 2008 through Blackboard, though the University will now be pursuing a new ID contract through Atrium due to “consistently poorer and poorer service” on Blackboard’s part, according to Stewart.

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].