We know several residents wanted to attend last Wednesday’s meeting on the future of the Bobby Pearse Center but had conflicts. For those unable to attend, we’ve tried to provide a few highlights below:
Mari Steinbach, Director, Greenville Parks & Rec., began by stating there is no decision on the final disposition of the center. They got some quick estimates right after the tree fell…a little under $100,000 to repair. They felt it unwise to rush into anything as they wanted to weigh all the options, so nothing was done other than tarping. The city is doing park assessments on all 6 community centers, looking at the level of service to see if it meets the community needs. The city has never adequately funded the operations and maintenance yet alone any improvements and repairs as needed, so all centers have issues. So… the city is not just looking at Bobby Pearse but all centers. Council and staff recognize the enormous task of maintaining 6 community centers.
She reiterated the options: Raze, Repair, Rebuild a similar facility or Rebuild Bigger and Better. The City received $45,000 in insurance award (which nets $35,000 after deductible) to go toward repair, but the insurance did not take into account mold and asbestos remediation. It was recommended that the City go back to the insurance company and revisit that issue.
Council members began weighing in in January. Councilman George Fletcher told the group that he, Doug Harper with Harper General Contractors, Bill Husk of synTerra, an experienced asbestos remediation expert, and NMCA President Dave Modeen, visited the facility earlier that day to get a better idea of the issues that exist with the building in its current state. Doug suggested installation of a foyer wall/door access which appears straightforward and could enable the existing bathrooms to serve the community during those times and events when the center is not open. They also benefited from insights by Jim Crosby, the City Engineering Manager who lead development of the initial building recovery plan. The asbestos expert provided a ball park estimate of $30,000 to remediate the asbestos and mold. That insight was one factor in suggesting the City appeal to the insurer for a higher insurance payout. Councilman Fletcher implied that he felt confident the building could be repaired for the cost estimates previously provided for just remediation of the hazards and demolition.
Questions and Discussion:
- Why such a high cost to rebuild…$600,000 – 900,000 in addition to the $100,000 or hazard remediation and subsequent demolition? To many, this cost seemed inflated because of the simplicity of the building. Staff countered that the terrain and environmental regulatory constraints on protecting the adjacent creek, possible ADA compliance, bathrooms, etc., are contributing to this cost.
- Poor communication. Most residents had not heard anything after the two public meetings until the story in the newspaper said the building was to be demolished. Staff assured us that they would do better on communicating in the future.
- It was obvious that this is a passionate topic for North Main residents, many of whom have taken advantage of the excellent after-school enrichment programs. One resident commented that this center was one of the key factors in bringing this community together and that we should do all we can to keep it.
- It was pointed out that the original building was not funded by the city, but by North Main residents (via paper drives, bake sales, donations, etc.) and by the North Main Rotary, and a $1,000 contribution from the Pearse Family, if the building could serve as a memory to their son killed in WWII. The city did provide the land and the infrastructure.
- One resident asked the question which was probably on everyone’s mind…Would the city demolish the building BEFORE they had a future plan in place? There was no assurance given.
In a final word, George Fletcher said he believes the City will be forming a Committee consisting of himself, NMCA and Rotary representatives, City staff and other interested citizens and local contractors to provide input into the reassessment. Participants reiterated that they want a building…not additional bathrooms or more greenspace.