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Beloit College eyes renovating old power station into rec center

Published On: Oct 16 2012 06:50:23 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 16 2012 07:20:58 PM CDT
BELOIT, Wis. -

Some riverfront real estate could reshape the Beloit College campus.

The college has its eye on a piece of history -- Wisconsin Power and Light's Blackhawk Generating Station along Highway 51.

Beloit College is exploring the possibility of renovating the power station to create a new recreation and activity center. Beloit College said it will need to raise $30 million in private donations to make the project a reality.

Those proposing the plan said it's a chance for the college and the city to redefine life along the river.

The Rock River is where Bill Moore remembers Beloit's vibrant industrial days.

"They've done a remarkable amount of work beautifying the river," said Moore, who has walked along the river since 1973. "I remember when they used to generate power there. There used to be a large coal dump on the end of the building there. Freight trains would drop off cars full of coal."

Those cars full of coal have long since moved away, as the Blackhawk Generating Station sits empty, just a stone's throw from Beloit College.

"We have always thought of ourselves as a river college, but we don't have a foothold on the river. This gives us an opportunity to have that," said Beloit College spokesman Jason Hughes.

Hughes said Beloit College would get the money for the project from donors.

"Those are renovation dollars -- all donor dollars. So we need to go out and find that money. That's no small task, as you can imagine," Hughes said.

Students said the concept could rejuvenate life on campus as well as the community.

"Our union is nice the way it is now, but compared to some other schools, it's a little small," said Beloit College freshman Rory Klean. "It doesn't afford a lot of luxuries. It could be great for alumni and a new attraction for students to come here."

"To renovate the old power station would probably be a plus for the beautification of the river area," Moore said.

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