No race to complete new athletic building

Plans for constructing the new athletics department building will continue despite deepening fiscal challenges for Santa Monica College.  The project, valued at $40 million, is scheduled to break ground in March 2013.

            Due to California's $26.5 billion deficit, SMC is braced for painful apportionment reductions in the millions, a reduced student body, increased enrollment fees, and the possible elimination of entire departments.

            The departments and programs that will likely face either a paring down or complete elimination are activities courses, recreational courses, and athletics. Legislative analysts have deemed them unnecessary, President and Superintendent Dr. Chui L. Tsang said in an interview with the Corsair.

            With athletics facing termination, many are confused about how plans for a $40 million new athletics building could be on the books.

            Construction of the building, however, does not come from SMC's total budget, but from local Santa Monica taxpayers' bonds. The bonds have already been sold and approved, giving building planners possession of the necessary cash to fund the project, according to Greg Brown, Manager of Facilities for SMC.

            According to Brown, plans for new buildings take long terms into consideration. "We're looking 50 years into the future," Brown said. "So whatever plans we have, we have to keep flexibility in mind."

            The new building will contain four dance studios, two fitness studios, an exercise classroom for yoga, and two standard classrooms reserved for health courses, physical education, and non-lab courses.

            Aside from student and athlete spaces, the building will also house a central plant for campus wide air-conditioning. The plant is designed to contribute to large energy saving functions for SMC. Projected to operate at 630,000 kilowatt-hours per year, the cost savings, according to Mr. Brown, will amount to $161,000 per year, and reduce carbon emissions of 181 metric tons of CO2 per year.

            Since SMC's foreseeable fiscal difficulties will not likely be permanent, building planners will not make permanent alterations to the building for temporary problems. If athletics programs are eliminated, "many of the rooms and studios could be converted into classrooms if need be," Brown said.

            "The building itself will continue," said Dr. Tsang in the same interview. "The rooms are of multiple use, anyway, so whatever the case is, we can use that building anyway, in some way."

            The construction of the new building, scheduled to begin March 2013, will require the current physical education building to be torn down. Construction is projected to be completed by 2014.