The Bellamy Recreation Center will be closing its doors later this month for a renovation project that city officials say will transform a drab and deteriorated gym into a brighter, safer venue for the many youth and seniors who utilize the facility.
The project will see a brand new floor installed in the gym, requiring the entire center to shut down from Sept. 10-18 so work can be completed. The floor is well over two decades old and is showing its age through cracks, bubbles and shifts that grow more dangerous by the day. One of the basketball goals is actually covering a sizable hole.
In hopes of revamping the facility and answering safety concerns, the City Council included the new Bellamy floor in the 2015-16 budget at a cost of $43,000.
“We’re very, very excited about it,” Center director Brenda Potter said of the upcoming project. “It will look really new and really professional. It’s going to look so much better.”
Along with a new floor, an adjacent storage room will be overhauled to better house equipment and supplies and the gym’s walls will receive a fresh coat of paint. Those smaller projects are currently ongoing at the facility, located within Royal Lane Park.
The existing flooring has been in place for 23 years, “which is beyond the useful life and has become a safety issue with cracks and tears,” City manager Shawn Purvis stated in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan approved by Council in June. The flooring system is expected to reduce maintenance costs, be more versatile and have lines for basketball and volleyball, which will have a built-in setup for placement of nets.
The new floor will come with a machine used specifically to clean it, taking care of scuff marks, gouges and other damage that previously could not be mended. All of that is good news to Potter.
“That floor is directly on concrete and you can’t clean it,” she noted. “You can sweep but you can’t really truly clean it. It would also shock you.”
While the existing flooring is not concrete itself, it isn’t forgiving either for those who fall on it. The surface is not just hard, but its look leaves its victims with a waffle-shaped road rash. Potter said the last straw came when not one senior, but two, tripped over the floor’s buckling surface.
“I told Jonathan ‘we have to do something,’” Potter said of talks with City Rec director Jonathan Allen. “I was about to have a nervous breakdown.”
Potter said the new faux-wood floor will have rubber underneath it that allows for some shock absorption.
“It will help seniors when they’re walking and when young people are running on it,” Potter noted. “It will be a big benefit for us. It will bring more people playing in here. We have volleyball and basketball in here on a regular basis and our walkers are in here every day.”
Leading up to the project’s approval, city staff said the floor was dry rotted and the problem was likely to spread over time, making it a safety issue and a liability.
“Because the flooring is so old you can’t just call and get that one piece and do a replacement because they don’t make it anymore,” Allen said earlier this year.
Potter was still a relatively new City of Clinton employee under director Walker Bellamy himself when the existing floor was put in place more than two decades ago.
“When we first got this, it was the best stuff you could get,” she recalled. But now, she noted, “it’s not adequate for the facility.”
The gym hosts numerous programs and activities throughout the year. There is also an existing shuffleboard setup, and the new floor will also accommodate that as well. Potter said she anticipated the gym could eventually host the Senior Games and serve as a dependable backup facility in cases of inclement weather.
Right now, it’s a work in progress, but toward the end of September, Potter fully anticipates a renovated gym to rejuvenate those who use it — and encourage others to join in.
The two bulky basketball goals will be moved into the adjacent Activities Room — where seniors do a variety of activities each day — so that work can be completed. With the presence of those goals, coupled with the amount of dust, noise and traffic the work will produce, city officials felt it best to close down the facility altogether.
Several signs are currently posted in the Bellamy Center notifying visitors that the facility will be closed from Sept. 10-18 to install the gym floor. Regular operating hours will resume Monday, Sept. 21, at which point an olive and blue floor will have given way to a shiny new floor, with new bright white paint on the walls.
“I think it will brighten it up in there,” Potter said, “and we hope eventually to get new lights and some new basketball goals.”
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.