CONWAY — The town's new recreation center is scheduled to open Monday in formerly unused space at Kennett Middle School, just in time for summer camp to start.

While the space has been undergoing feverish renovations, some items on the center's punch list won't be quite finished.

At Tuesday's selectmen's meeting Town Manager Tom Holmes announced that "we have met the deadline to open the new rec center. Our anticipation is it will be open on Monday."

A "soft open house" took place Thursday for the parents of kids attending summer camp.

A grand opening for the entire community is tentative scheduled for Sept. 10.

The gym floor still has to be finished, said Recreation Director John Eastman.

The school has another gym and will allow the rec center to use it for the first week of camp if the recently sanded and coated floor isn't dry yet.

However, Eastman noted, "We intend on being outside unless it rains."

While giving a tour for the media Wednesday, Eastman said the floor had received one coat of polyurethane. He said it would be painted with basketball lines the following day and then given two more coats of poly. 

"Then it's got to sit a little bit," said Eastman, pointing out the bleachers that will sit between 100 and 125 people.

The paneling around the stage is now beadboard (it was concrete block before).

Outside the gym will be a "wall of fame" with vintage photos of Conway Kennett sports teams dating back to the 1920s. Inside the gym, Eastman plans to hang banners of Conway and Carroll County championship teams.

He also noted that the gym has a curtain that can divide the gym so more than one activity can go on at a time. The lights are LED and on a motion sensor.

After reconstruction estimates came in on the high end, the whole project is as far along as it is because of volunteers who donated their time and materials to accomplish painting, plumbing and electrical work, plus fundraising by Friends of Rec. Some local establishments provided food for the volunteers.

Holmes said it was a "Herculean effort" to get the building ready by Monday, with lots of people giving up their weekends toward the effort.

"It takes a whole village," said Selectman John Colbath.

Holmes added it's a $1.2 million job based on the bids, and it was done with $800,000 plus community support.

Holmes said the security system has been installed except for two of the seven total cameras.

Also, the architect had called for a custom door and the manufacturer has been slow to produce it. Town Engineer Paul DegliAngeli said, "We are now scrambling to come up with a temporary door."

Once installed, the new door will allow people to enter the rec center without going into the middle school. The opening is currently boarded up.

Eastman said the door won't be an issue Monday since school is out. He said it will be complete by September.

During the tour Eastman showed various rooms that had been completed, such as a new reception area, a cafeteria that can hold 90 children, a library/computer lab, staff offices, game room and concession room.

The new space has much better storage than the old Conway Community Building, where the rec center used to be based.

Despite all the new amenities, "we are still raising money for stuff," said Eastman. "We need to have a stage, and we need sound equipment."

The rec department had to buy new upholstered furniture.

"Fire code prohibits us from having anything that doesn't have a label on that's California fire rated," said Eastman. "All the donated furniture that we have at the old rec; we are not bringing any of that here. We can't."

The rec department was able to repurpose tables from the school district. Eastman said the art room is bright and cheerful as opposed to the basement in the old facility in Center Conway.

Heating and air conditioning units are being installed, and DegliAngeli asked the contractor to work over the weekend to make sure they are up and running. He said the air conditioning for some of the rooms will be done within two weeks.

Ballfield lights will be moved to the middle school fields during the summer.

Last year, voters approved moving the center from the aging Conway Community Building and approved $700,000, with $350,000 pledged by local philanthropists Margaret L. and Charles S. “Sut” Marshall, to cover the renovations needed to turn the mothballed portion of the middle school building into a fully functioning recreation center, including restoring an old gym built in the 1930s.

At a $1 per year lease, the department was set to take over roughly 22,000 square feet of space, or 13 percent of the 173,722-square-foot middle school building, in a section that was mothballed after Kennett High School separated from the middle school and moved to a new building in 12 years ago.

"I really think it was a great investment," said Eastman of the new rec center.

daymond@conwaydailysun.com

 

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