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New year, old resolutions: Progress stalls on bouldering wall in Rec after need for funds

The bouldering wall, projected to open by the end of the fall semester, is now indefinitely delayed. ORACLE GRAPHIC/JEISLIAN QUILES-SIERRA

Every student who uses the USF Recreation and Wellness Center can add another resolution to their New Year’s goals besides fitness – seeing the bouldering wall before they graduate.

Construction on the bouldering wall began in 2021 and has been subject to several delays. 

Related: Bouldering wall in Rec center faces another delay five years after its original announcement

In an email sent to the Oracle on Jan. 7, Aaron Nichols, director of communication and engagement, wrote that the most recent delay of the wall – which was most recently expected to be completed in the fall semester –  was caused by a need for a revised proposal and additional funding.

There is no new estimate for when the bouldering wall will be completed, but Nichols said the project will continue to move forward.

To appeal to rock climbers of all levels, the wall will stand at 12-14 feet tall and will not require any extra staff or equipment for use. Students can climb to any height and fall back on thick foam padding beneath them.

The idea for the wall was conceived by Student Government (SG) in 2018, and funds were allocated to convert one of three racquetball courts in the Rec to a bouldering wall. 

However, obstacles such as the pandemic and issues with design and planning have continued the  delays, according to Nichols.

While the original budget of the project was about $150,000, the unforeseen challenges regarding the racquetball court support beams required an additional $60,000 to move forward with the project.

The $60,000 acquired for the racquetball court was used to complete the demolition of the ceiling in the space over the winter break, according to Nichols. The extra space created by the demolition will be used to create room for the wall.

However, due to a lack of funds, the project management team is waiting on a revised proposal from the contractor for completion of the project. Until then, Nichols said an updated cost estimate is unknown.

Related: Bouldering wall in Rec projected to open after spring break

After approving the revised proposal, a request for additional funding can be made. At the moment, the racquetball court consists of bare block wells and an exposed HVAC and electrical conduit as a result of the ceiling demolition, Nichols said.