THE NEW UCD Student Learning, Leisure and Sports Complex will now be completed by March 2011, according to the current Student Centre Manager, Dominic O’Keeffe. He confirmed that they “have got the builder waiting to go” and that construction “should start in mid-September.”

042007_3_(Large) Although originally scheduled to be ready for use in December 2008, O’Keeffe insists “that they haven’t had any delays” in building the new student centre. “At the outset, you may say you’ll have it done in three years, but when you go and do it you find other things you have to sort out first.”

O’Keeffe explained that much of this work, such as the relocation of the National Hockey Stadium or the installation of a drainage system, could not have been completed any earlier, as they could only be carried out in the summer months. “It’s not like we’ve been doing nothing for six months and just going off to the beaches in Sandycove,” he said. “We have to build to suit the seasonality of things.”

O’Keeffe also highlighted the effect that the new method of contracts’ procurement had on the project. Under the legislation introduced two years ago, building companies now bear responsibility for any costs exceeding the agreed budget of a project, rather than the client.

“This makes for a more complex tender process which takes longer,” stated O’Keeffe. “This is positive too, because it results in very competitive prices which are not as high as we thought they were going to be. The project has now come in at about €5m under budget.”

O’Keeffe made it clear that this will have no effect on the student centre levy, which increased to €157.50 this year. Pointing out that the original referendum declared the levy “to increase in line with normal inflation,” O’Keeffe stated that it was merely a matter of “defining normal inflation” and adding it to the centre levy.

“You’ll have inflation going up more one year than another,” he continued. “So our financial advisors, Meszaros, advised to charge a mean average so that it was fair and balanced on everybody. Otherwise one fellow may have to pay €270 one year while next year they would only pay €170.”

O’Keeffe announced that the charge to cover inflationary costs has been “locked in at five per cent”, and continued that none of these funds will go into the construction of the centre itself but rather contribute “to cover the cost of running the project over the lifetime of the mortgage, like it says in the 2006 referendum.”