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Rec plans expansion to satellite locations

By Max Pikras, For The Miami Student

Miami's Recreation Center is continuing its plan to expand to two satellite locations in Talawanda High School's old sports facilities and in the basement of Martin Hall within the next year.

Ron Siliko, senior director of customer services and facility management at the Rec Center, said the satellite locations will be constructed to address student demand of overcrowding, multipurpose space for club sports as well as location and proximity to students.

"The pleasant problem that we have is that students want more space and services," Siliko said.

The loss of Withrow Court has presented students with the opportunity to use the new facilities' multipurpose rooms, while also providing club and intramural sports teams the space needed to train.

Siliko said Talawanda High School's old facilities, which will now be known as Chestnut Fields, will have a functional strength training focus, including equipment such as the rig used in CrossFit training, medicine and slam balls, battle ropes, squat racks, benches and free weights.

In addition to strength training facility, Chestnut Fields will also include four-and-a-half to five acres of green space for students and club sports to use. There is also a track for people to walk and run on around the fields.

The fields will be open to students and club sports during daytime hours only. Currently, there are no nighttime hours, as there are no lights around the field.

Siliko said that the Rec Center might pursue the option of adding lights to the field depending on popularity and use of the fields.

Chestnut Fields also has a new parking lot next to the facilities. Pending a decision, students will be allowed to park with use of a permit or meters. Chestnut Fields will also be part of the shuttle system, with a stop next to the facilities.

Chestnut Fields will be located across the street from Miami's South Quad.

Senior Kevin Neuman said he is excited to use the Chestnut Fields facilities, and that it is great to have the location as an option.

"The Chestnut location would totally be a place I would go," Neuman said. "I tend to focus more on strength training, and it would be nice to drop in, work out and not have to wait for machines."

The basement of Martin Hall, a small space that is about 60 percent of the bottom floor of the Rec Center on the North Quad, will have a different focus than Chestnut Fields, and focus more on cardio. There will be a significant number of cardio machines and select rise equipment at the location.

The Rec Center staff has been monitoring students' comments and demands, and is very interested to see what they think of the new facilities.

"As a department, we are really excited about how the students will react to the new spaces, and also the opportunities they provide," Siliko said.

Siliko said the fitness staff might increase due to the new locations, in order to best serve the students who use the facilities. The number of staff members at each location will be determined by the amount of use each facility receives.

Chestnut Fields has a tentative opening date of late January to early February, while the basement of Martin Hall is poised to open in fall 2016.

There will be no additional fees to use the two new facilities. The Rec Center is funding the new satellite locations, and students will only pay fees for group fitness sessions and to participate in club sports teams, as part of the Rec Center's current policy.

While addressing the issue of overcrowding, the new satellite locations also provide new options for students who live far from the Rec Center.

Hannah Johnson, a sophomore, thinks that students will enjoy having closer options to work out.

"I think the new locations are very helpful," Johnson said. "I think it'll be beneficial for people who normally have to take a half hour to an hour of walking just to get to the Recreation Center."

The Rec Center plans to release more details and a timeline about the satellite locations after they select a contractor's bid to remodel the locations. Both locations require renovations, but designs are being finalized for how the facilities will look upon completion.