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UNG spends $2 million on improvements, extra parking

POSTED: November 25, 2013 10:36 p.m.

Gume Juarez, of Piedmont Concrete Services, smooths a freshly poured curb Monday afternoon at the University of North Georgia Gainesville campus. The crew worked through the cold preparing curbs for the new parking lot under construction at the school.

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The University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus is going through a face-lift, with more than $2 million in total renovations scheduled to be complete in the first part of 2014.

Work includes upgrades to the gym and science buildings, and a new parking lot.

“The biggest part of this project is we’re renovating the existing fitness center,” said Bill Moody, director of facilities for the university’s Gainesville, Oconee and Cumming campuses. “And we’re adding on to it.”

The upgrades to the Hugh Mills Physical Education Center include new workout equipment and flooring in the fitness center. Also, extra office space and an additional classroom are being added to the building.

In total, it’s an extra 1,000 square feet of space to the currently 4,000-square-foot building.

The original building was built in the 1960s, Moody said.

“We have almost 7,000 students (on the Gainesville campus) now,” he said. “We’re trying to enlarge and make it better for our students.”

The upgrades should be done by January. The budget is $500,000 for the gym renovations. 

Further, $1 million is being spent on upgrades to the campus’ science, engineering and
technology building.

Funds were approved in the 2014 budget by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
“(We’re converting) three classrooms to a large, multiuse ... lab to support the sciences,” said university spokeswoman Kate Maine.

Construction on that project is scheduled to begin over the winter holiday in December.
“There are a lot of specialty products they have to order,” she said. “It’ll probably be May before we finish that project.”

Perhaps first in many students’ minds is the issue of parking, but in 2014 more than 600 spaces should be added to what is currently available.

Earlier this year, a parking deck was closed, denying access to 296 spaces. The lack of parking galvanized some of the Gainesville-based students to put together an online petition asking the university to either refund student parking fees or allow the students to park on a grassy field on the campus.

So far, 162 students have added their digital signature.

According to Maine, the deck is expected to reopen in January. It closed in August when some needed concrete repairs were identified during a routine inspection.
“The contractor and engineer required that we close the deck out of an abundance of caution,” Maine said at the time.

Additionally, a new surface parking lot with 315 spaces should be completely open by Dec. 23; some spaces will be available as early as Dec. 2.

The budget for development of the new parking lot is $700,000.

“It, of course, includes more than just paving,” Maine said. “There is design work, grading, retaining wall construction (and so forth).”


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