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Saturday, December 20, 2014

NM Legislature approves recreation funds

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By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Assistant director of governmental affairs John Garrity, left, and ASUNM President Isaac Romero stand outside the residence halls near the outdoor volleyball court Monday afternoon. UNM students can expect the volleyball court and the nearby basketball court to be renovated by the fall semester.

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UNM students living in the residence halls could expect enhanced recreation amenities by the fall semester.

The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico is in the process of finding a contractor to renovate the northern segment of Johnson Field that borders Casas del Rio and Coronado Hall.

ASUNM President Isaac Romero said that he and John Garrity, assistant director of governmental affairs, have been lobbying at the state Legislature for project funding in recent months. He said ASUNM has procured $160,000 in state money to put toward this improvement.

Romero said the primary application of the money should be to renovate the area’s gravel and dirt lot, the basketball court and two volleyball courts. He said improvements would also include a recycling system and lighting around areas of campus previously indicated as lacking by students.

“Right now it’s not a very good-looking part of campus,” Romero said. “That’s part of why I wanted to take this initiative of making it a little bit better — because it could be a great spot. Potentially, we will be able to add some benches and tables, so that way people can watch or have picnics while people are playing basketball. This is the beginning of the project.”

Romero said they are planning to enlarge the basketball court slightly and change it from its present four-court form into two separate full courts, without regulation dimensions. He said they hope to touch up the two volleyball courts and put in new grass as well.

Renovations are expected to be complete by early August, Romero said.

Garrity said ASUNM has the money secured and is working on finding a contractor for the job via a bidding system open to construction companies in the state.

“There is a period of time that contractors from around the state are allowed to bid on the project,” Garrity said. “Then, together with other administrative offices, we choose which contractor will take on the project.”

Garrity said it is an exciting time for ASUNM, and he hopes students share the sentiment. He said he is looking forward to having access to a more comfortable place to be outside during the upcoming fall semester.

“We’re both really excited because this is a great opportunity for a good space for students to have a sense of community on campus,” Garrity said. “We hope students are equally excited because it’s going to be awesome to have some afternoons in the fall semester when you and your friends can go outside and use the basketball court and volleyball court and just spend some time outside.”

Garret Schultz, a sophomore at UNM, expressed interest in the renovated space and said that it would be convenient for students due to its proximity to residence halls.

“I think that that would be a cool spot for us to hang out, especially since it’s close to the dorms,” he said.