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University makes way for Leo Park

Des Delgadillo
Copy Chief

The University of La Verne plans to use what was formerly the site of the Education Management Building at the corner of D Street and Arrow Highway as a recreation space for students.

The space, called Leo Park, is conservatively estimated to be completed by the start of the fall semester.

“It’s giving students an amenity that they currently don’t have,” said Jeanne Cockrell, assistant director of capital planning and Leo Park project manager. “It will have the exercise equipment. It will have a basketball court, and it will have some quiet, green space, and currently there’s not much of that on campus,” she said.

The 2009 Campus Center project called for the demolition of a second gym, which left students without a freely available recreation space. Students in sports teams received priority over other students for gym time.

“We don’t really have many recreational uses for students on campus,” said ASULV Vice President David Asbra. “We do have the gym, but there are a lot of restrictions. So something such as this (Leo Park) is open solely for fun, recreational use for any students on campus.”

The Leo Park project looks to alleviate some student concerns for new places to engage in physical activities.

“This is just one more piece of what we think as a department is critical for students to have for having a balanced life,” said Paul Alvarez, professor of kinesiology and director of the athletic training program.

“In a perfect world, what you have is dual facilities. If you look at a lot of really large campuses, they might have an intercollegiate gymnasium for their sports, but then at the same time, they will have a separate recreational gymnasium that has a more open schedule.”

After former ASULV Vice President Michael Wahba initiated the Leo Park plan on the student side, Asbra is confident the recreation space will enhance campus activity.

“Instead of just video games, or watching TV, or playing pool, you have other avenues to have fun,” Asbra said.

The contract is currently up for bid, with three contractors up for consideration: KAR Construction, the same firm that built the Campus Center in 2009, KNC Construction and Oltmans Construction, Cockrell said.

“You look at their pricing, and what they’re going to offer, their reputation and their references, and then we make a decision on which one of them is going to construct the site,” she said.

The project itself stems from compromise between the University and city officials, with the city allowing the University to build the recreation site as long as the University respect certain trees and acknowledge the building site’s history. The site previously housed the orange packing offices, symbolic of La Verne’s prominence as a citrus manufacturer in the early 20th century. This earned the town the moniker “Heart of the Orange Empire,” which will be commemorated and displayed at the new recreation space.

Des Delgadillo can be reached at desmond.delgadillo@laverne.edu.

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