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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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HellWell opens to public

The D.C. Zoning Commission unanimously approved plans to open Lerner Health and Wellness Center to a limited number of alumni and Foggy Bottom community members.

The expanded membership includes 250 passes for area alumni and 50 for local residents. University and city officials expect the new arrangement to go into effect in early 2008, unless the decision is appealed. Since the plan was announced, some students have expressed concern that the new arrangement will further aggravate overcrowding in the gym.

Administrators said they hoped to open the gym to alumni when the facility was built in 1999. When Lerner does offer the additional memberships, they will be available to alumni for a small fee.

Members of the community objected to the membership expansion at a community meeting in October, saying it will put the gym in competition with local gyms as well as cause additional traffic in the area. The Advisory Neighborhood Commission, a community group that offers suggestions to the District government, approved the plans.

Students have also raised concerns, as they worry about the facility becoming too busy.

“I think it would definitely be overcrowded. It would be nice but I don’t think we need it,” sophomore Jen Dang said.

“If they open it up to neighbors it would be a bunch of 40-and 50-year-olds and I’d prefer it if it was students. I’m sure other students feel the same way,” junior Adam Difrawy said.

Andre Julien, the assistant athletic director for health and wellness who oversees the gym, said the University would encourage the new members to come during quieter times of the day. The building is typically busiest in the early evening.

Julien also said he is finishing negotiations to buy additional cardiovascular equipment and will expand aquatic classes to compensate for the new members.

“One of the biggest concerns, honestly, is that it’s a different age group,” Julien said. “That brings some different concerns in regards to security and emergency response access.”

Graduate student Parke Nicholson, coming out of Lerner on Wednesday morning, said that he is not worried about the increase in members.

“I’m OK with that,” he said. “I don’t think the amount of people would be enough to hoard all of the machines.”

When handing down their decision in mid November, the zoning commission insisted that Lerner offer a minimum of 50 memberships to neighbors. The University has stated that these will be provided free to residents of St. Mary’s Court and the Remington apartments and parishioners of St. Mary’s Church.

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