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NORMAL - Illinois State University will use nearly $50 million in bonds to pay for several major capital projects outlined in its master plan - with most of the money going to upgrading student housing and dining halls.

At its quarterly meeting Friday, the ISU board of trustees OK'd issuing the bonds for projects ranging from renovating dorms and constructing a parking garage to developing a site for a new student recreation center and building new tennis courts.

Now is a good time for issuing the $47 million in bonds, said Carl Kasten, ISU board chairman, citing attractive interest rates and positive bond ratings.

"There's a confluence of several factors that make it the right time," said Kasten.

A competitive sale on March 2 will allow the funds to be available March 21, said Steve Bragg, ISU finance chief. ISU President Al Bowman called the board's approval of the bonds "an exciting move forward for the university."

A breakdown of the projects is:

— $31 million toward long range housing and dining plans

— $6 million for construction of parking deck on University Street.

— $2 million for preliminary designs for planning a new student recreation center

— $1 million to relocate tennis court to north of Gregory Street

— $500,000 for other facilities improvements

— $6.5 million to pay bonds issued about a decade for other campus construction projects.

— ISU's long range housing and dining plan calls for east campus updates, after workers complete renovations at the Tri Towers complex. Wilkins is finished, Haynie should open in August, and work on Wright begins this summer.

Next in line are east campus' Hewett and Manchester halls. Plans call for eliminating the Vrooman Dining Center. That space will be used for something different, such as a commons area.

The parking deck is needed because of increased traffic following the opening of the College of Business building, said Bragg. It likely would add 400 to 500 spaces. The deck wouldn't open for about four years.


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