Tippin Gym Renovation Project Continues to Have Mixed Signals; Athletics Moves to Ralston but Bids Still Open

Tippin Gym
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – The Tippin Gym renovation project continues to have mixed signals of moving forward after the Clarion University Athletics Department recently moved its offices from Tippin Gym to Ralston Hall but a university spokesperson said the bids are still being advertised for the project.

“At this point, there is no new information (on the project),” Clarion University spokesperson David Love told ExploreClarion in an e-mail Wednesday. “DGS (Pennsylvania Department of General Services) has advertised the bid.”

The bid on the gym’s renovation as well as the construction of a recreation pool in the vicinity of the Rec Center is indeed currently open according to the DSG website.

The rebid start date, this is at least the third time that bids have been solicited for this project, which was originally announced in March 2012, was March 10, 2017. The due date for the bids is May 24, 2017, and the bids will be opened that day at 2 p.m. according to the DSG website.

The May 24 deadline for bids is different than what Clarion Interim Athletic Director Wendy Snodgrass told ExploreClarion this past fall when she said she thought bids were due back in December and the project would start in March.

“My understanding is that bids are not due back until around the end of December (2016),” Snodgrass said in a Nov. 15, 2016, e-mail to ExploreClarion.

That e-mail followed an Oct. 24 e-mail to ExploreClarion by Snodgrass saying the renovations were scheduled to begin in March 2017.

“The renovation is scheduled to begin in March 2017,” Snodgrass said in the Oct. 24 e-mail “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.”

With bids still open on the project and no guarantee that they will be accepted when opened, both Snodgrass and Love, who Snodgrass directed all questions concerning the Tippin Gym Renovation project to, wouldn’t answer why the athletic department has already vacated Tippin Gym, how much the move from Tippin to Ralston Hall cost or where that money came from.

In a May 4 e-mailed statement to ExploreClarion Love said, “The bid process is moving along and we are looking forward to the announcement of the general contractor and for work to begin”

If the bids are accepted, the six athletic programs that use Tippin Gym for both practices and games/competitions – volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling and men’s and women’s swimming and diving – will not have access to the gym during renovations and will need places to play and practice. The university, however, doesn’t seem to have an answer to where those facilities will be.

“We are currently working with all our coaches on practice and competition plans for the time that Tippin is under construction,” Love said in the May 4 e-mail. “When those plans are complete and communicated to our student-athletes we will make an announcement to our alumni and fans.”

According to a Frequently Asked Questions section on Tippin Renovation posted on ClarionGoldenEagles.com in June 2014 (it is not readily accessible on the redesigned website that was launched this fall but can be accessed through the included link or by a quick Google search), the renovation and expansion budget for Tippin totaled nearly $45 million in 2014. The project itself was part of an original request that Clarion University made to the State Capital projects budget for possible renovation more than 17 years ago, and the project was approved by the state legislature in 2008 as part of the capital budget bill that year. The formal request for the release of those funds was made in Aug. 2011 according to the FAQ.

At the time of the 2014 FAQ’s being posted, it was thought the project would be completed by Fall 2018.

Editor’s Note – The FAQ mentioned in this story was put together by the story’s author, Chris Rossetti when he was employed as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Clarion University.

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