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GCC workshop ponders future of Lindquist Center

 

October 16, 2019

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Gogebic COMMUNITY College Board members, staff and students tour the campus pool that is no longer operational during a workshop meeting on Tuesday. From left, GCC board members Tim Kolesar and Robert Burchell, David Darrow, vice president of Academic Services, board members Susan Beals and John Lupino (chair), GCC President George McNulty, board members William Malloy and Thomas Brown, and Jeanne Graham, vice president of student services.

By TOM LAVENTURE

tlaventure@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood - The future of the Lindquist Student Conference Center was the topic of a workshop for Gogebic Community College Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

The Lindquist Center is one component, but a priority component of the plan that GCC is trying to come up with that will support the college, students and the community for the next 25 years, said GCC President George McNulty. This is a major facility development project that is in exploration mode at this point and there will be many meetings in the future, he said.

"I think what we need to do is determine direction," McNulty said. "Then we can get to the point where we can establish timelines that bring us to our ultimate goal."

The board members toured the Lindquist Center as they discussed the merits of two proposals. Both would create a community health and wellness center with a club style membership, but one would keep an existing swimming pool that is no longer operational, and the other plan fills in the pool to repurpose the space.

Board member Robert Burchell advocated for repairing and upgrading the pool as an improvement to campus life and to ensure that a competition lap pool continued to exist in the community. The pool is a tremendous asset to the area, he said.

The plan to fill in the pool would create space for two larger locker rooms, coaching offices, two classrooms and a new weight room, according to statements at the meeting. Burchell said the plan to keep the pool costs $600,000 and provides for the other amenities while the plan to fill in the pool costs $1.5 million.

The discussion turned to reasons why the pool was closed and fell into non-operational status since 2015. The students weren't using the pool and a community group took over operation of the pool but it didn't last, said Jeanne Graham, vice president of student services. The decision to close the pool was to avoid having to take funds from other student programs, she said.

Burchell said that the community operation was a bad business model that could be changed to succeed. He said the group was forced to walk away when GCC decided to remove the pool from its umbrella insurance to save $2,000 and would have cost the community group $30,000 annually which was cost prohibitive, he said.

Eric Guenard, vice president of business for GCC, said that student participation and usage is the most important factor for GCC when considering the use of Lindquist Center space. The purpose of education dollars at GCC is for student experience and although community experience is important when it comes to the pool decision there are two sets of factors to consider, he said.

Brandon Rogers, a second year medical technology student, attended the meeting and said the pool would be a great asset but that he understands that it could be cost prohibitive. He would also like to see the student lounge have 24 hour access for students to have an alternative place to study or socialize outside of the dorms.

The board members said that more research and surveys of students and community would be beneficial to consider a recommendation and to determine actual costs for either decision and to see what is the best fit for the GCC's long-term strategic plan.

"I believe that we are trying to take what we know from history and then merge it with what we would like to do looking forward," McNulty said. "I believe we are in evaluation mode right now to connect those two points in history."

John Lupino, board chair, said the board would discuss the competing proposals at the November meeting to come to a recommendation that will give the administration some idea of direction on how the board would like to see the campus grow.

 
 

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