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Plymouth State's $32 million health, track facility seen as student draw

Union Leader Correspondent

August 26. 2014 8:21PM
An artist's rendering shows the ALLWell North Building at Plymouth State University. The school ceremoniously broke ground on the $32 million project Tuesday. (DAN SEUFERT/Union Leader Correspondent)

PLYMOUTH — Plymouth State University ceremonially broke ground on a $32 million Active Living, Learning and Wellness, or ALLWell, North building, which will include classrooms, training rooms, and event centers capable of holding 6,000 people.

Plymouth State University President Sara Jayne Steen and an artists drawing of the new ALLWell North building that is now under construction at the university. (DAN SEUFERT/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

The 108,000-square-foot building will feature a field house with a 200-meter indoor competition-sized track, which will be among the largest in New England. It will allow the university to add new track and field teams and will attract more athletes to Plymouth, university officials said.

The new ALLWell North building that is now under construction at Plymouth State University. (DAN SEUFERT/Union Leader Correspondent)

The building will alleviate 25 percent of the college’s current space needs, giving more space to health and wellness education programs. University officials estimate that more than 75 percent of PSU’s 7,000 students will use the new facility in a classroom, as a participant in a recreational or intramural program or as an athlete.

Economic benefits

The town and region will benefit. A third-party economic development report estimates that the building will generate more than $4 million a year in local economic benefits. Approximately 250 jobs will be created during construction, and 17 new permanent jobs will be created, officials said.

“I am so proud of this building and the effort that’s gone into it,” said President Sara Jayne Steen, who is leaving the university at the end of the coming school year. The building will be finished by the fall of 2015.

“This building will really make a difference for the university and for this region. This is a transformative moment for Plymouth State University,” she said.About half of the dollars for the building’s construction are coming from capital building funds from the University System of New Hampshire, said Steve Taksar, the university’s vice president for finance and administration. The rest of the cost is coming from acquired bonds, from campus sources and from a fundraising campaign.

The building is needed for many reasons, beyond just replacing the current field house, which will still serve the college for the foreseeable future.

Housing health majors

Among the fastest growing majors at the university are in the health fields. The building will house athletes and those studying athletic medicine and mechanics, college officials said.

“Our students will be better prepared because of how ALLWell North will re-integrate academics, athletics and recreation on one site,” said Julie Bernier, PSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The indoor track will serve as the starting point for the re-establishment of PSU’s men’s varsity track and field and the addition of women’s varsity track and field beginning in fall 2015. The only track equal in size in New Hampshire is at Dartmouth College, and the track has characteristics that make it unique to New England colleges, said George Davis, a member of the university’s Class of 1962 who helped design the facility.

The track will be named after Davis, a member of the alumni committee and 42-year veteran college track coach at Massachusetts colleges.

“We came up with a heck of a facility,” Davis said. “It provides the athletes with a state-of-the-art facility, and will attract a lot of student athletes who would have otherwise never considered PSU.”

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