Getting a face-lift

Published 10:28 am Thursday, December 21, 2017

AHOSKIE – The Ahoskie Town Council at its December meeting voted in favor of several improvements to the town’s Recreation Center, mostly cosmetic.

After a study was done, repairs and upgrades to the structure’s front doors, lobby, bathrooms, office space, classrooms, locker rooms and gym, including approximately 200 hours cost for labor and a contingency fee, would total $131,820.

This figure did not include cost for replacing the lobby lights, front outside lights, and wall electrical outlets, which have already been completed.

“We spend quite a bit of time trying to make improvements to some of the buildings we have around town,” said Town Manager Kerry McDuffie. “We felt we needed to come back to the Town Board before we jump off on some things and just did that. Actually this is a little bit less per square foot based on the size of the building because this is a much larger building. ”

McDuffie cited disrepair on the facility.

“This is a tremendous amount of money,” McDuffie noted. “There were three things we’ve done to be ready for basketball season and currently we don’t have a lot of money to do things with.  If we spend this amount on the gym it’s not going to leave us any more money for projects, and we can’t have any more debts for the rest of this year.”

The Town Manager suggested scheduling a date in early 2018 for a workshop on some of the more pressing improvements to town facilities. He also offered options.

“If we’re going to make improvements, we need to go ahead and look at it: spending the $130,000; saving some part of this money to build up our fund balance; and look at really building an outdoor court, something we could do for about $30,000 – maybe less than that. We could use that to, say, pay off the fire truck … or do we want to go ahead and fix the gym up – something that hasn’t been maintained – and do it right.”

Councilman Matt Bradley asked if the money were spent on the gym, what would be the timeline to build up the reserve to do more projects.

“Based on a tremendous amount of factors, I think it’s going to be next budget year,” McDuffie replied.

He went on to suggest limited improvements that would fall within the budget parameters such as the lobby, while locking off the back portion (classroom area) for non-use.

Councilman Rev. C. David Stackhouse said he visits the gym daily and said he supports the Town Manager’s vision.

“That gym is the heartbeat of our community because we have so many children who walk there, ride their bikes there, get dropped off there; and it’s in a safe location (near the Ahoskie Police Department),” Stackhouse noted.

He said the back rooms could be used for tutoring before play is done if organized sufficiently.

“It’s one of the smoothest operations in town; so we desperately need these repairs done, and we definitely need to take the chain off the door,” he added. “What does that say to a passer-by?”

Councilwoman Linda Blackburn said the town needs to get ahead of the repairs. Bradley, meanwhile, again asked for a ‘lean’ timeline.

“I’d hate to see us spend all our money and then some emergency come up,” he declared.

Councilman Charles Freeman suggested tabling the complete list of repairs, which was made into a motion, seconded, and passed unanimously.

McDuffie did request that the $7,000 for repair to the doors be spent.   Public Works Director Steve Lassiter noted that some work has been done now: the floors are being re-done as an annual maintenance undertaking and that was cause for a temporary shutdown, but the facility has since re-opened.

“And we’ve also repaired the clock on the wall,” Lassiter replied.

The Maintenance Director also said he’d already received price quotes on the door repairs, but was waiting before proceeding further.

“I’m waiting on the Board’s decision before moving forward with the doors, so I can’t set a time frame just yet,” Lassiter said.