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Kyle Potter, Published May 14 2013

NDSU students would foot bill for $11M aquatic center

FARGO – North Dakota State University students want to build a new, $11 million swimming facility on campus.

Students would foot the entire bill for the new aquatic center, a facility with competitive and recreational pools to be added to the school’s exercise center in north Fargo, through a staggered $113 increase in annual student fees.

Once finished – expected in 2017 or 2018 – students could use the pools for free. Metro-area residents could buy a pass through the school to go swimming when it opens.

There’s a pent-up demand for public swimming facilities in the metro area. West Fargo officials are also considering building a $21 million aquatic center.

“For many, many, many years, it’s been a concern that we’re a Division I school, but we don’t have a pool on campus,” said Robbie Lauf, president of the school’s student government.

The state Board of Higher Education will discuss on May 23 the plan for a new facility at NDSU. The board needs to sign off before the project moves ahead.

Construction wouldn’t start until at least 2015 because the Legislature also needs to approve the project. The Legislature doesn’t reconvene until early 2015.

The project has been “entirely student-driven,” said NDSU spokeswoman Laura McDaniel.

NDSU students held an election in April to weigh in on the project. Of the 2,400 who voted – about 18 percent of the student body – 60 percent approved of building the swimming pool using student fees.

The results of that vote prove NDSU students are itching for a new swimming facility on campus and are willing to pay for it, Lauf said.

Starting this fall, NDSU students would pay $58 more a year in fees to cover the construction costs for the 29,000-square-foot addition to the school’s Wallman Wellness Center. Another $54 increase would be added starting in fall 2016.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502