It's included on 2013 capital request list for the state legislature.

    The proposed "Wellness Center" on the University of Minnesota, Crookston campus has cleared a significant hurdle, with the U of M Board of Regents including the project in the University of Minnesota's capital projects list that's requested of the state legislature.

    While cautioning that it amounts to a single step and that more steps are necessary before dirt is moved, UMC Chancellor Fred Wood said the inclusion of the project in the capital projects request list is a big deal. "This is very good news for our students and for our entire community," he said in his latest "e-update from the chancellor."

    Wood said the regents didn't simply include the Crookston Wellness Center on the list, they also voiced specifically their support for the project. "They recognize, first and foremost, that it is a facility that will help us with student success by assisting in our efforts to recruit and retain students," Wood said. "As we discuss the design of this facility, it also has the potential to be transformational for the campus in terms of building a stronger campus community and strengthening links with the surrounding community."

    The "work of advocacy and garnering support" for the project will "now commence in earnest," Wood added.

    The estimated cost for the Wellness Center is $18 million. In the state bonding request, UMC will be seeking $12 million, with the remaining $6 million to be raised through a variety of fundraising efforts. Wood said talks are underway with students as well about the scope of the fee they will pay once the facility is open. He said students are receptive to the fact that fees paid by them will be necessary to support the facility, which will likely be built adjacent to the Sports Center on campus and Lysaker Gymnasium.

    Wood said he will also very soon embark on a series of meetings with community leaders and city officials to see what, if any role they'd like to play in making the Wellness Center a reality.

    If the project is included in the 2013 bonding bill, the design phase would then commence, with the goal of breaking ground in 2014.