A new student retreat center is in the works for land recently purchased by Iowa State.
A request submitted at the Aug. 2-3 Board of Regents meeting to purchase 17.2 acres of land between the Applied Science Center and Veenker Memorial Golf Course has been acted on.
“The ultimate goal is to build a larger state-of-the-art student leadership retreat center on the property and use that for student groups to have leadership retreats there and [for them to] use it as they see fit,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Tom Hill.
Hill said this would allow student organizations without the resources to transport their group or rent places to plan retreats.
The land is a very wooded area with many trails and bridges, which is ideal for outdoor activities.
On the scenic plot sits a lodge known as the Lynn Fuhrer Lodge, which was built in the 1920s at the end of World War I as a memorial for a fallen pilot from Iowa State.
The lodge contains a small living room and kitchen, bathroom, basement and a typical 1920s stone fireplace that sits in a vast open space. Porches on the east and west sides provide observation locations to gaze upon the trails, wooden bridges and steps.
“You get there, and you don’t think you’re still in Ames,” Hill said. “You think you’re way away from the campus. That’s the feel you get. That’s why it’s so attractive. You’re still within the city limits, but you get this remote feel that you traveled a long way.”
The land, already surrounded by ISU property, was acquired from the Des Moines YMCA for a price of $120,000. They no longer had a use for it and had no reservations about selling it to Iowa State.
However, according to the Board of Regents agenda item, the YMCA prefers limited development to occur on it within the next few years and that it be kept as a natural area.
Warren Madden, the university’s vice president for business and finance, said, “When [the YMCA] sold it to us, we made a commitment to maintain the wooded natural area of it for 20 years. I believe they’re taking the money and investing it in some of their other Y facilities.”
Funds for the transaction were provided by Iowa State’s funds for land maintenance and repair. The university has money that comes associated with reimbursement for use of the facilities and property. Correlating with student affairs, Madden said that this was to be the funding source.
The lodge needs repairs due to lack of use and vandalism. The Division of Student Affairs will oversee the renovations and are expecting to take action within a few weeks. Hill said that he hopes the repaired original facility will be available for use toward the end of spring semester.
Plans for the new facility are premature. Funds will have to come from donors willing to take on the project, Hill said. So a time for when the new state-of-the-art center is created are up in the air. As for the project itself, Hill is looking forward to the possibilities.
“I’m really excited about it,” Hill said. “The students I’ve talked to about it are excited about it, too. I think it’s something that is sorely needed for students, and I think it’s going to make a difference. It’s going to really enhance leadership training for students.”