The Hamel Recreation Center at the University of New Hampshire will get a 65000squarefoot addition Photo courtesy of Hughes Group Architects

The Hamel Recreation Center at the University of New Hampshire will get a 65,000-square-foot addition. Photo courtesy of Hughes Group Architects

University of New Hampshire Gets OK to Expand Recreation Center

$35.5 million project will add 65,000 square feet to the Hamel Recreation Center.

New Hampshire officials have approved plans for a $35.5 million expansion of the recreation center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan and the state's executive council have approved higher-education bond requests that include funding for the expansion, Foster's Daily Democrat reported. The approval comes several weeks after a committee tabled the recreation center plan along with several other capital projects for universities in New Hampshire.

The expansion of the Hamel Recreation Center will add about 65,000 square feet to the 100,000 square feet in the existing facility.

University officials say plans for the expansion were set into motion in response to students, faculty, staff and community members who have expressed a desire for more space to devoted to fitness and recreation.

The two-story addition will enable the center to increase space dedicated to fitness activities. It will include a large multi-activity court, a 1/10th-mile suspended track, wellness space, an instructional kitchen, and additional social and gathering space. After the addition is completed, the university plans to renovate the existing space.

The state's approval of bonds also means the university can move forward with construction of a 14,000-square-foot outdoor pool adjacent to the recreation center. The school is not using bond funds for the $4.5 million project, so it did not need approval of the state, but because the pool and recreation center projects were designed together, construction of the pool could not move forward until the recreation center plans were approved.

The university's timeline calls for both the recreation center addition and the outdoor pool to be completed by summer 2016.

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