Green space, street extension, science building among changes coming to UWRF

Posted October 10, 2018

The completion of the Falcon Center last year has set the stage for a number of other projects on the UW-River Falls campus.

Among them is a new green space on the west side of campus where the Karges Center once stood. Karges, which for decades was the recreation building for students before completion of the Falcon Center, was torn down over the summer.

The current plan for the empty parcel is to keep it a green space until further notice. Grass and different plants will fill the area before winter hits, says Alan Symicek, executive director of Facilities, Planning and Management at UWRF.

The 10-year plan that started in 2011 also calls for tying Spruce Street into the roundabout at Cascade Avenue and 2nd Street next to where Karges Center was located.

“Where Spruce Street comes up right now, and it being so close to the intersection of Main and Cascade, which is a pretty busy intersection, it would be a safer situation if it tied into the roundabout,” Symicek said. Although the work is not expected to happen for the next several years, university officials have been talking with the City of River Falls about the project.

New science center planned

The Board of Regents in August agreed to include UWRF’s plan for a new $111 million Science and Technology Innovation Center in the proposed 2019-2021 budget request to the state. Beth Schommer, executive assistant to the chancellor, said that with the rising number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors and an increase in total student enrollment in the next several years, the new building could benefit all of campus.

“The other innovative thing about it is, it’s really in line with our campus’s desire to be thinking differently about higher education and not just doing things the ways we’ve always done them,” Schommer said.

The community will benefit from the building, too, with the inclusion of the Business Collaboration Innovation Space, where local businesses would be able to come work directly with students. Schommer said the university needs “to think about what our local business community needs from an educational standpoint.”

“They’re looking for talent,” she said. “They’re looking for talent to hire into their workforce. Are we responding to their needs?”

Many faculty, staff and student members are excited for the new building.

Benjamin Chang, a sophomore elementary education major, said that he’s “excited for the opportunities to come with the building. It will definitely be a game changer for our campus.”

Kari Mattmiller, a criminology major who plans to graduate in the spring said, “It’ll be nice for the growing number of science students to actually get a place to do proper labs. Even though I won’t be able to use it, it’s still very exciting for the university and incoming students.”

Remodeling of the two original science buildings (Centennial Science Hall and Agricultural Science) on campus also is planned. Schommer and Symicek said that the earliest the shovel could hit the ground would be 2019.

Permission to republish this story is granted provided credit is given to the author and to Falcon News Service.