Friday, March 15, 2013

TOP STORY >> Community center bids sought

Leader staff writer

Bidding will open next week for almost $700,000 worth of repairs to the six-year-old Cabot Community Center.

Work is expected to start by late April and the pool will be closed for six months.

Cory Whalin from Clements and Associates Architecture, a North Little Rock firm that identified the problems with the center, said during a Thursday night meeting of the parks commission that he gets calls from contractors every day who want to know when the project will be bid.

Contractors need work so interest in the project is high, Whalin said.

The damage was caused by a faulty Pool Pac, a dehumidification system that apparently never worked properly and allowed moisture in the roof area that rusted the screws that hold the roof in place.

The building will need a new roof as well as moisture-proof doors and interior walls.

To pay for the work, the commission is borrowing up to $300,000 from the Bank of the Ozarks which offered the five-year loan at 1.8 percent interest, the lowest of all the banks in Cabot, which also bid.

The balance will come for the city which is contributing $250,000 and the Cabot Advertising and Promotion Commission which will pay $150,000. The commission oversees the 1.5 percent tax collected on prepared foods and hotel rooms that must be used to promote the city in some way.

Ken Kincade, vice chairman of the parks commission, noted during the Thursday meeting that memberships for the community center are down.

The repairs are projected to begin April 24 and be competed Oct. 30. But the planned repairs did not include painting or repairing the crack in the pool. Gary Clements, the owner of Clements & Associates, told the commission that he was unaware of problems with the pool.

But he told the commission, “Let us investigate.”

The Thursday night meeting was the first commission meeting attended by John Crow, the 38-year-old maintenance supervisor from the North Little Rock parks department who was selected earlier this month as the new parks director for Cabot.

Crow, who lives in Cabot and is married to a Cabot High School math teacher, will not officially be on board until April 8.

The commission had set the salary range for the parks director at $52,000 to $77,000. Crow will be paid $65,000 plus standard benefits.

He has a degree in physical education and wellness promotion. He has knowledge of budgets, grant writing, athletic administration, and developing and implementing maintenance plans as well as other duties related to a large athletic facility and event management..

As the former project coordinator for North Little Rock parks, he was the liaison between the city and the athletic associations assuring compliance with contracts and optimum performance. He coordinated all special events including tournaments and charity events.

Johnny White, the former athletic director for Cabot schools who now serves on the commission, is acting as the unpaid interim director until Crow takes over.

On Tuesday, White closed the skate park next to the community center at the request of the Cabot School District and city police because students were cutting class and going to the park. Braden Reshel, 20, and Michael Williams, 19, asked the commission to consider a solution that would allow them to keep using the park during the day because they have other commitments during the evening.

Some sort of sign-in procedure might work, Reshel said.

Alderman Ed Long said from the audience that the city has a curfew ordinance that says school-age children aren’t allowed outside during school hours except for school-related activities.

The police should simply enforce the law that is already in place, Long said.

White pointed out that the weekend and spring break was just ahead. So, the young men would have daytime access to the park for at least 10 days and that he would work on a solution in the meantime.