DGS Awards Tippin Gym Project; Construction Could Start in March

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – After years of fits and starts, it appears that Clarion University’s Tippin Gym will finally be renovated.

(Photo of the current Tippin Gym)

A media release from the university’s Sports Information Department said that the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) announced on Tuesday, February 6, that the Tippin Gymnasium Renovation Project has officially been awarded, and construction is expected to begin in March.

“We are pleased to announce the award and impending commencement of Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium renovation project,” Liz O’Reilly, the General Services Deputy Secretary for Public Works said in the release. “Thanks to the cooperation, commitment, and patience that took place between all parties involved, we were able to work out a project scope that delivers a quality, state-of-the-art facility that students, staff, fans and the community will be able to enjoy.”

The project, which will cost $42.7 million according to Clarion University, will see a total renovation of the building with a new entrance/lobby, a complete overhaul of the basketball courts and seating, an overhaul of the swimming pool with a new combination swimming/diving pool, expanded area for wrestling, a new weight room and locker rooms, as well as an auxiliary gymnasium, something the current Tippin doesn’t have.

In addition, according to Clarion University, the building will also get new restrooms, HVAC system replacement, and new LED lighting fixtures throughout. The building is designed to achieve the LEED Silver level of sustainability under the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations.

The contractors for the project are Mascaro Construction Company (General), Renick Brothers Mechanical Contractors (HVAC), Shipley Brothers Construction, Inc. (Plumbing) and Westmoreland Electric Services, LLC (Electrical).

Now that the project has been awarded, the next step will be for DGS to hold an initial job conference for the project in March. At that time, construction will officially begin, according to Clarion University. At that conference, project schedules and timelines will be developed and confirmed.

Clarion University expects the project to take a little more than 17 months to complete which means a possible August or September 2019 opening for the new building.

While the building is being renovated, Clarion University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams and women’s volleyball team will most likely play in the Clarion University Rec Center. The Rec Center received a nearly $300,000,00 new floor during the Summer of 2017, paid out of the university’s general funds even though the Rec Center is student-funded, with anticipation of the Tippin Gym renovation taking place. The wrestling team has already been competing in Marwick-Boyd Auditorium and will continue to do so it is believed. The wrestling team also had a wrestling room built in the Gemmell Student Complex in the Summer of 2017 at a cost in excess of $20,000.00, also paid through the university’s general fund.

Tuesday’s announcements hopefully is the final step in a process that has lasted nearly two decades, and the March start date will be a full six years after Clarion University originally announced the renovation of Tippin Gym, as well as the building of a new natatorium adjacent to the Student Recreation Center and renovations to the locker rooms in the recreation center and other “enhancements” on March 7, 2012. Tuesday’s release makes no mention of a new natatorium adjacent to the Student Rec Center.

At the time of the announcement in 2012, an anticipated start date on the renovations to Tippin Gym was fall of 2013.

“Now that the feasibility study is complete, the actual construction design will begin for the natatorium project and Tippin renovation,” a media release from the university dated March 7, 2012, stated. “Assuming expedient progress on the design (Paul) Bylaska (vice president for finance and administration at the university in 2012) expects construction to begin in fall 2013.”

After construction did not take place in fall 2013, the university athletics department added the above-mentioned Frequently Asked Questions segment to its athletics website (www.clariongoldeneagles.com) as well as artist renditions of what the renovated gym would look like and a video featuring the Clarion Athletic Director Dave Katis talking about the project.

It is now known that the gym will not look exactly like it was announced in 2014, multiple sources have told exploreClarion.com.

Within the FAQ one of the questions asked was “What is the timing of the project,” and the answer was “We anticipate a Fall 2018 completion.”

The FAQ also stated at the time that the university made a request to the State Capital projects budget for possible renovations of the building more than 15 years ago or 1999 or earlier.

“The project was approved by the state legislature in 2008 as part of the capital budget bill that year,” the FAQ said. “The formal request for the release of those funds was made in August 2011.”

After the project hadn’t been started by October 2016, exploreClarion.com reached out to then-interim Athletic Director Wendy Snodgrass – now the athletic director, who replaced Katis in 2016 – and asked her for the current timeline on the building.

“The renovation is scheduled to begin in March 2017,” Snodgrass said in an October 24, 2016, e-mail to exploreClarion.com. “I haven’t seen the finalized plans for what the building will look like. I believe that the estimated timeline for completion is Summer 2018.”

In late Spring of 2017, the university moved all of its athletic and academic departments out of Tippin with the anticipation of a Summer 2017 start, but in September, it announced that athletic competitions would continue inside Tippin until at least Thanksgiving. Then, just prior to Thanksgiving, exploreClarion.com received word that was confirmed by the university that Tippin Gym would then be occupied through at least December 16, and later, it was determined that the university’s basketball teams would continue to play in Tippin Gym through the end of the 2017-18 season in late February.

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