Nadine Akra / Lantern photographer
Jesse Owens North Recreation Center is scheduled to have air conditioning installed in late spring – finally.
“The Jesse Owens North (JON) air conditioning project was delayed … because the Office of Student Life and Recreational Sports were waiting to learn the status of the North Campus Residential project,” said Emily Howard, spokeswoman for the Department of Recreational Sports in the Office of Student Life, in an email.
When the Ohio State Board of Trustees approved the North Residential District project to include keeping the existing JON, the Department of Recreational Sports put the project on the list for approval in late September, Howard said.
“The department didn’t want to use student fee dollars to make facility improvements to a building that may or may not have existed in the new North Campus plan,” she said.
The JON project is estimated to cost about $250,000.
Michael Orr and Evan O’Brien, third-years in welding engineering, said they heard last spring that air conditioning would be installed in JON but had not heard anything since then.
Orr and O’Brien said they frequently work out at JON because it is close to where they live on Norwich Avenue.
“It’s definitely really hot in there,” Orr said. “If the RPAC was closer we would definitely go there.”
O’Brien said because the building gets so hot, he will go to the RPAC even though it is less convenient when it’s warm outside.
JON was built in 1976 at the same time as the Jesse Owens South Recreation Center (JOS). Each facility cost about $500,000.
Air conditioning was installed in JOS in the mid-1990s “in conjunction with a temporary conversion of the space for the Health Sciences Library,” Howard said.
The Jesse Owens centers cost less to build than the more popular Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC), which is about 100 times the size of each Jesse Owens North, according to the Recreational Sports website.
The RPAC was completed in 2007 at a cost of $140 million making it about 80 times more expensive than the Jesse Owens facilities, after adjusting for inflation.
However, the price of the RPAC is not proportional to its number of visitors in relation to the Jesse Owens facilities. With an average daily total of 4,281 visitors, the RPAC has on average six times as many visitors per day as JON’s 710 and almost five times as many as JOS’ 882 daily average, Howard said.
Other updates to JON will “probably” occur with the air conditioning installation, Howard said.
“We are waiting to see how potential changes to the whole of North Campus will impact JON. However, we hope to add wood courts to JON and reconfigure the multi-purpose space,” she said.
About $50,000 is spent annually to replace and update fitness equipment within JON, Howard said.
JON will not be closed completely for the installation, Howard said. However, “there may be times when a portion of the facility is unavailable.”