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  • Tuesday, October 06, 2015
    Blinn board approves construction of Kruse Recreation Center
    The Blinn College board of trustees awarded a guaranteed maximum price to Collier Construction for the building of the Kruse Recreation Center Monday at a special meeting.

    Trustees approved the item by a vote of 6-1, with board member Richard Powell representing the only dissenting vote.

    A 36,000-square-foot facility, the Kruse Center will serve primarily as a student recreation and activities facility, including space for general fitness, dance and yoga, kinesiology classes, student organization meetings, weightlifting and fitness space and multi-purpose rooms for community events and meetings.
     
    The center will also feature a gymnasium to host Buccaneer volleyball and basketball games as well as high school playoff games. It also has the potential to host community events and summer camps to increase campus activity in the summer months.
     
    “The Kruse Center will provide Blinn with a tremendous advantage in recruiting and retaining students on our Brenham campus,” said David Sommer, board president. “Facilities like the Kruse Center allow Blinn to attract motivated, high-energy students not only with our outstanding academic reputation, but with a vibrant, active residential community.
     
    “We are excited for the Kruse Center to become a dynamic location where students can learn and grow outside the classroom.”
     
    The price awarded to Collier Construction was $9,804,197, though the total project cost comes out to $11,404,197.
     
    Blinn College has committed $5.5 million towards the project, with $1.5 million in excess funds from the 2015 fiscal year and $2 million of infrastructure reserve funds budgeted from each of fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
     
    The Blinn Foundation has partnered to provide the remaining $5,124,197 in costs. It has currently received closed to $1.4 million in donations along with $1.1 million in pledges towards the center, leaving $2,649,197 to be raised.
     
    Construction of the center will begin in spring of 2016 and it is expected to be completed by fall of 2017.
     
    According to Kelli Shomaker, Blinn’s senior vice president for finance & administrative services/CFO, there may be a lapse between the time construction begins and when the foundation is able to raise the outstanding costs.
     
    Blinn will likely have to bridge the gap in the meantime, and Shomaker offered the following methods — the college may use current cash reserves, reallocate budgeted debt service funds in fiscal year 2016 of $1.75 million, allocate from contingency funds that were budgeted in fiscal year 2016 in the amount of $3.3 million or accrue debt in the form of borrowed funds.
     
    Trustees took no action regarding the “makeup” funds, but were assured by Shomaker that they will not impact other projects the college is undertaking.
     
    “The financing of those foundation funds will have no impact on the Bryan expansion project or a third party providing student housing on the Brenham campus,” Shomaker said.
     
    Operation and costs of the Kruse Center are being estimated at $200,000 a year.
     
    The college has a multitude of ways to cover the expense, including a student fee charged per semester to students on the Brenham campus, exercise class package offerings at an additional expense, membership packages for faculty and staff, membership packages for the community, and leasing the center’s space for community events.
     
    Trustees also went over previous architectural master plans for the Brenham campus dating back to 1999, comparing proposed changes to the campus over several different plans that have been drawn up.
     
    The board authorized the administration to seek request for qualifications for the construction of additional student housing on the Brenham campus at its Aug. 18 meeting.
     
    The administration’s goal is to add anywhere between 200-500 additional beds by the fall of 2017, something factored into the Brenham campus plan moving forward.
     
    Trustees took no action regarding campus changes outside of the Kruse Center, merely discussed different approaches the college might take in the future.