PELLA — On an otherwise quiet Central College campus, P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium thunders with activity as concrete cutters and sledgehammers work their magic and the next phase of renovation through the Forever Dutch initiative hits full stride.
The $3 million phase, generated by more than 2,600 donors, launched Feb. 24 and is on target for an Aug. 3 completion of a transformed lower level to the 51-year-old building, in time for the arrival of fall sports athletics teams. The renovation includes construction of a spacious women’s varsity locker room with a team meeting room, a reconfigured athletic training room that will provide more treatment space and an expanded athletics equipment room.
According to assistant athletics director for operations Tim Wilkinson, workers are completing final demolition in old locker room spaces as well as in one of the H.S. Kuyper Fieldhouse racquetball courts.
The court space will be converted into two levels, with an assistant coaches’ office area on the top and urgently needed athletics department storage space below. Attention will then turn to mechanical work and installation of new ductwork. New concrete flooring will be poured in spaces where old showers and bathrooms were removed. New spaces will then be sectioned with walls installed.
It would be a stretch to term it a silver lining in the uncertain current world environment, but renovation progress was accelerated with the college’s transition to remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester.
“It’s allowed the construction company to move forward with areas that they were going to have to wait until the end of May to access,” Wilkinson said.
With the early end to the spring sports seasons, coaches with first-floor offices are vacating them now and moving to temporary locations. And those new locations no longer need to accommodate campus visitors, with the closure of the campus to guests.
“As long as the construction workers are allowed to come to work, this will continue to move forward and, hopefully, stay on track and on time,” Wilkinson said.
More than $15 million has been raised for the ongoing Forever Dutch initiative, which includes the 2017 $12 million building expansion. The expansion features a prominent new building entrance with the M. Joan Kuyper Farver Atrium and expanded Pacha Family Lobby, state-of-the-art locker room, wrestling center, Chip Griffith Student Lounge, the Athletics Hall of Honor, golf/baseball/softball hitting center and major infrastructure improvements.
Fund-raising is continuing for the next $3 million phase, a renovation of the building’s upper level. That will feature team meeting space, a new welcome center, recruitment space, offices and visitor locker room.
“We really want to keep the momentum going,” athletics director Eric Van Kley said. “It’s crucial that we complete that next phase and the best way to do it would be to have these construction crews roll right into it after the first-floor work is completed in August. We’re so appreciative of the generosity of all of the supporters that propelled us to this point and we really encourage everyone to help get us to that next target.”
Student facility needs are a priority at Central as the highly successful athletics program continues to grow. Central has nearly 600 student-athletes competing in 19 intercollegiate men’s and women’s varsity sports. A 20th sport, women’s triathlon, will be added next fall. The Dutch have captured 11 NCAA Division III team championships.
“We’re grateful that we’ve been able to continue moving ahead with the renovation,” Van Kley said. “I know how hard our student-athletes and coaches are working right now to build on the Dutch championship tradition. They are more motivated than ever and I’m confident our supporters are as well.”
Contributions can be made via forever.central.edu.