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Boathouse work presses ahead

BY JUSTIN SUGG | MARCH 30, 2009 7:40 AM

At some points, the Iowa River swells to within 10 feet of the Beckwith Boathouse construction site.
But that isn’t preventing the UI from moving forward with the facility’s completion.

After committing nearly $6.5 million to the project, UI officials plan to finish construction — with some additional flood-proofing — near Terrell Mill Park across the street from Mayflower this October, said Senior Associate Director of Athletics Jane Meyer.

Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management, said UI officials originally considered other locations, such as sites south of the Iowa River Power Company dam and a site on the Coralville-Iowa City border.

But those sites posed logistical problems for the rowing team, Lehnertz said.

One of the problems for the two sites is their proximity to the dam. If the officials had built at those locations, the rowing team would have needed to travel a safe distance before being able to start practice.



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The Coralville site would have forced the crew members to row an entire course of their practice against the current. Typically, a rowing course involves rowing with and against the current, Lehnertz said.

Further, the current location sits in Terrell Mill Park, which provided an opportunity for the UI to include the city on a joint venture, he said.

Lehnertz stressed the importance of the boathouse being on the river, saying the rowing team needed a short, direct route to the river with little traffic between, because they must carry heavy and delicate water crafts by hand.UI sophomore and rowing team member Haylie Miller agreed.
“[Being close to the river] makes it a lot easier,” she said.

The UI held a groundbreaking ceremony for the boathouse in March 2008, hoping to finish the project by this May, but the school suspended the project before any construction began in June 2008 because of the flood.

Despite rising waters, the university stuck to the original site, thanks to a 99-year lease that the school and city officials agreed to before the flood, as well as flooding at other potential sites.
The challenge then became to flood-proof the new boathouse.

Meyer said officials made changes in the building’s design, including moving all electrical equipment to upper levels as well as making shelves and water pumps easy to remove in the event of a flood.

And to reduce the cost of any damage, Meyer said, officials will build the lower levels with concrete slabs instead of drywall.

Concrete slabs require solely a power wash and disinfecting in the event of a flood, while drywall would need to be torn out and replaced, she said.

The labor cost of replacing the drywall would be more than an entire power wash, Lehnertz said.

Still, questions remain regarding the boathouse’s final price tag.

When asked if these alterations would increase the roughly $6.5 million price, Meyer said it was likely, but said it’s too early to tell how much.

UI spokesman Steve Parrott agreed it was too soon to provide estimates because the university is still negotiating costs with Miron Construction, the company building the facility.

The excess cost, Meyer said, would be covered by the UI Athletics Gifts and Revenues Fund.

The improvements may not increase the overall costs that much, if last year’s cleanup of the current boathouse is any indication.

Men’s rowing club assistant coach Myles Melyon said boathouses are designed to be waterproof, and the current boathouse required little cleaning after it flooded last year.


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