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story.lead_photo.caption Chuck Sutton applies a final coat of paint to an exterior door to the gymnasium of the new Wellness Center. Several different sub-contractors are working to complete the large project in time for the upcoming open house and grand opening. Parks and Recreation Department staff will soon start moving their offices from downtown to this location. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Construction on the Lincoln University Wellness and Jefferson City Parks Multipurpose Recreation Center was completed on schedule, Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department Director Todd Spalding reported this week. The long-announced target of Jan. 30 was met, he said.

The public's first use of the center is tentatively scheduled for the third week of February, he said.

The doors are open, however, and there was a constant stream of visitors throughout the day Thursday. Spalding said this had been commonplace in recent weeks and the pace was heightened as a previously announced Jan. 30 target for the completion of construction neared.

The facility is perched atop a prominent hill on Lafayette Street, across from the Jefferson City High School campus.

Spalding said the staffs of the city's Parks Department and the university's Athletic Department were swarming the 80,000-square-foot facility this week, helping clean, organize and move into office space. Parks staffers were learning Thursday where they would be located, Spalding said.

The reception area of the wellness center will become the principal site for doing business with the Parks Department in a few weeks, the director said, as staff move from their current facility in the City Annex on Monroe Street in downtown Jefferson City.

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Contractors were in the center Thursday, attending to last-minute details, including painting, installing mirrors and detailing the concrete flooring. The vast expanse of wood in the four-basketball-court fieldhouse was strictly off-limits as the wood bonding cured, a process that will continue for days to come, Spalding explained.

Wednesday was a training day, Spalding said, for both Parks and university staff. The high technology features of the building included learning how to operate the computerized raising and lowering of basketball goals and volleyball nets, the programming of the LED lighting and the testing of the dozens of individual fitness machines, all of which will link with smartphones and other personal computing equipment.

"Lots of little things now — network, Wi-Fi, computers, office equipment. We are working on firming all of the dates now," he said, referring to the planned soft opening, grand opening and other forms of openings part and parcel to the initiation of full-fledged services in a three-story structure more than three years in the planning.

Groundbreaking for the Wellness Center occurred during the football homecoming weekend at Lincoln in fall 2015.

All of the loose ends will be in place in the next few days, Spalding said — "I am hoping by the end of this week we'll have them all tied up."

The conclusion of construction was achieved within a schedule that had 30 bad-weather days built into it, as well as the understanding between the Parks Department and the university that some key elements of the overall project, like the gym flooring and elevators, might be delayed by transportation snafus and unavoidable delays at the site of the original manufacturers. The elevator has been installed but was not operational Thursday.

In the original memorandum of understanding between the Parks Commission and the University Board of Curators, the estimated budget for the Wellness Center was $11.1 million, with Lincoln contributing $4.6 million and the Parks Commission contributing $6.5 million.

Name and naming rights of the Wellness Center remain undetermined, although Spalding said Thursday "what we think is exciting news will be made in the next few days." He hinted a name for the facility had been chosen and would be revealed by the two partners in the very near term.

That original memorandum specified, "Subject to agreement of the two parties, the Parks Commission and Lincoln University are authorized to rename the facility, or a part or parts of the facility, in exchange for a donation or donations under the terms of any hereinafter naming rights agreement or agreement."

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