Student Government sees future floor plans for Eastman Hall

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis extended his offer to the student government body Thursday during open gallery, inviting them for dinner at his house for a chance to meet others living in St. Cloud.

The second half of open gallery featured the Director of the Women’s Center, Jane Olsen, before student government toured Eastman Hall.

“It’s an opportunity to have a conversation,” Kleis said, explaining that it’s a way to bring community members together.

“It’s too often I get calls about bad neighbors,” he continued, saying that this new program, Neighbor of the Month, is a way to focus on the positive things neighbors do. And, it doesn’t have to be just an individual either, he said, it can be a business or an organization too.

After extending the offer, the mayor went onto talk about some of the city’s plans that involve campus and the surrounding area.

To start, Kleis brought up the Campus Area Police Services (CAPS) that’s now in its third year. The CAPS program will see additional support, he explained, because of a federal grant that’s helping to hire three additional officers, Kleis said.

The mayor moved onto talk about George W. Friedrich Park that was re-opened earlier this year.

“It’s a wonderful 51 acres,” he said. Going down University Drive, he said you’d run right into the park. Although there is still work to be done around restoration, including improving the water quality, the mayor’s hope for the park is to open it up for recreation uses, especially swimming, he said.

Over the next few years, the city of St. Cloud plans to help improve the water quality in the park, he said.

As for other nearby areas of the city and campus, Kleis briefly explain city plans for the Fifth Avenue South corridor. Keeping St. Cloud State in mind, he said the city is looking at refurbishing housing along the street. The idea is to make the houses available for multiple uses, while trying to attract families and young professionals to live in the area, Kleis explained.

“There are 6,000 people working downtown,” Kleis said. “That number is only going to grow.”

The city plans to put more emphasis on the downtown area and to focus in on “catalyst sites,” areas that are being looked at for re-development.

The re-development aims to draw attention to the river, adding restaurants and hotels to the area, Kleis said.

Kleis opened up the meeting to questions. Following up on the incident with John Fillah, known as the “St. Cloud Superman,” Senator Brandon Mitchell asked the mayor about St. Cloud State being able to acquire city streets. Mayor Kleis said it would be a challenge, given the number of areas that aren’t university property. As for the streets that are routed through campus, Kleis said that it’s possible.

President Summer Vogl explained that acquiring city streets was talked about during a Student Government executive meeting, and that she plans to send information about the idea to Mayor Kleis.

After the mayor’s closing, Jane Olsen, director of the Women’s Center, came to the stand to talk briefly about the work done at the center.

“In terms of our mission, we focus on advancing women and responding to gender equity issues on campus,” she said. Having been running for 25 and half years, Women on Wednesday presents new topics each semester, while the center helps to put on other programs and events for students, including bringing Lacy Green to campus.

Among other resources provided by the Women’s Center, Olsen brought up the center’s new blog, Collective Feminism. Created and led by students, the blog provides another resource for student needs, she said. As for the center itself, the building serves as a space for students, she continued. About a dozen student organizations use the space for evening events, mainly for socials or meetings.

Olsen ended after a brief introduction, inviting the student government body to ask any questions surrounding the Women’s Center and the work it does around campus.

After a brief conversation, members of student government headed for Eastman Hall. The second half of open gallery was allotted touring the building.

Closed three years ago, Eastman Hall was built in 1929. Standing in the entrance, the dimly lit building shows signs of wear and aging. The tall, brick building is still in good shape, though, said John Frischmann, director of Facilities Management.

He said, “The building is very structurally solid. This building is in great shape.”

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Director of Facilities Management John Frischmann talks with the student government body about the future floor plans of Eastman Hall. Photo by Alec Kasper-Olson.
Director of Facilities Management John Frischmann talks with the student government body about the future floor plans of Eastman Hall. Photo by Alec Kasper-Olson.

Frischmann, who led the tour, guided students through the building into the gym. With tall ceilings, the room echoed the sounds of the students’ voices and footsteps. After getting into the gym, the student government body crowded in the middle of the room. Frischmann stood in front of six posters, detailing the future floor plans for the $18 million remodeling project.

“We hope to reuse the bleachers,” he said, explaining that the 90-year-old wooden gym floor and bleachers have held up over the decades. One after another, Frischmann walked students through the plans for Eastman Hall.

A rendering of an outside plaza was featured on one of the posters. Frischmann explained the plaza would be a way to emphasize the river, given the proximity to the building.

The second floor of the building will be mainly for Human and Health Services, while the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the recovery community will share the third floor, Frischmann explained.

In the basement, the old, cracking tile pool is getting taken out, Frischmann continued. In place of the pool, an exercise and training area, along with showers and toilets, will be in the basement.

“We hope to have more privacy,” he said, talking about ways the space could help on-campus programs.

Moving through the building, climbing up and down the flights of stairs, the building looked dated, with dead leaves, old files and dust occupying the building. The members of student government continued to follow Director Frischmann through the building, wrapping around back of the building toward the end of the tour.

The idea behind bringing Human and Health Services–located in an old residents hall–along with the others programs that will make the move, is a way to help break down the stigma of physical and mental health issues, Frischmann explained.

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