CSM Wellness Center Construction Set to Begin

Breaking ground on the new Wellness Center

Officials Break Ground on New Facility at Leonardtown Campus

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Wellness Center on the grounds of the College of Southern Maryland’s Leonardtown Campus on Sept. 23 provided an opportunity for college and elected officials as well as students and community members to get a little fresh air.

Fitness stations for yoga, aerobics and cycling were set out on the lawn at the site of the new facility to provide demonstrations from CSM fitness staff and students, and to allow guests an opportunity to get in a quick workout.

And that is just what the St. Mary’s County Commissioners—dressed in khaki pants, dark blazers and button-down shirts or suits—did as they mounted the stationary bikes placed outside along the sidewalk prior to the beginning of the ceremony.

James K. Raley, chair of the CSM Board of Trustees, thanked the state and local officials on-hand for their efforts in making the center possible and for the work that CSM does “that touches so many lives in so many ways.” Raley added that his first inkling that a wellness center was being discussed was when he saw it on the agenda of his first board meeting in 2000.

The Wellness Center, a 32,000-square-foot building with two pools, classroom spaces for aerobics, yoga and other fitness activities, and specialized fitness assessment rooms, will be the fourth building on the Leonardtown Campus and the state’s largest 2009 capital budget project for St. Mary’s County.

CSM enrollment is up seven percent this year—even in tough economic times, according to CSM President Bradley Gottfried—and enrollment at the Leonardtown Campus is up 50 percent since 1992, added St. Mary’s Commissioner President Francis “Jack” Russell.

Maryland Delegate John L. Bohanan joked that he mistook the day’s event as a groundbreaking ceremony for fiscal wellness, as the economic events of the week have had lawmakers on edge, “then I found out it was for physical wellness” he said to the delight of the audience.

Maryland State Senator Roy Dyson took the opportunity to salute CSM for its visionary nursing program. Coming from a meeting of Maryland college presidents, Dyson wanted to ‘brag a little’ on CSM’s accomplishments of “plowing ahead to meet future nursing challenges while other colleges were diverting their energies elsewhere.”

Dr. F.J. Talley, vice president and dean of the Leonardtown Campus, continued the salutes with words of gratitude for the Wellness Center Advisory Committee, the town of Leonardtown and the St. Mary’s County Board of Commissioners.

“I’m really excited for what is going to be a big hole in the ground for a while as the building is going up,” said Talley.

And with that, St. Mary’s County Commissioner Tom Mattingly and 14 others instrumental in moving the Wellness Center project along grabbed shovels and continued their workouts.

Work on the Wellness Center will begin in earnest later this fall, with completion set for 2010.

Judi Ferrara, wellness coordinator at the Leonardtown Campus, explained that the college is looking to draw on students in the Sports Management, and Exercise and Sport Science programs of study to gain some leadership experience through running some aspects of the new center.  When asked who should be the first to dive into the new pool, Ferrara considered, “Maybe all those who put the facility together could join hands around the pool and jump in all at once.”

The Wellness Center will be a one-story masonry and cut-stone building with expansive windows, a glass-enclosed climbing wall, and glass treatments providing sunlight over the centrally located pools.

Architects for the Wellness Center are Grimm and Parker with offices in Bethesda and Calverton, Maryland and McLean, Virginia. The general contractor for the project is J.A. Scheibel Construction, Huntingtown.

For information on fitness programs at the Leonardtown Campus call 240-725-5370 or 240-725-5300 ext. 5370 or visit the website at http://www.csmd.edu/wfs/Programs/Leonardtown/.