As you read in a January 25th article in the Greenville News or heard from neighbors, Parks and Recreation Director Mari Steinbach and Recreation Operations Administrator Brad Cuttino provided a presentation to members of the Greenville City Committee of the Whole (COW – composed of the Mayor, City Council and city staff) on January 7 to discuss the Bobby Pearse Community Center. The long-term outcome is still a matter of review and decision by City Council, but it appears the near term plan is asbestos remediation and demolition rather than repair the existing structure.
Options listed in the minutes were summarized as: “(1) repair existing building which is not viable; (2) demolish existing building and build a new facility, estimated at $600,000 to $900,000; and (3) demolish existing building and expand the greenspace, estimated at $110,000 for demolition and asbestos remediation, and potential $300,000 to $400,000 if restrooms are added.” [We note that NMCA has been asking for restrooms to replace the current port-a-let that is near the ballfield, which seems a more logical place for restrooms.]
Subsequent to the Greenville News article publication, NMCA member Mimi Riggins has spearheaded an effort to engage both city officials and staff, and residents to enhance communications between the City and community members in assessing the options. We applaud Mayor Knox who in response to Mimi’s inquiries, asked Councilmember George Fletcher to evaluate the condition of the building and site, and gain Mimi’s perspective on community usage. NMCA President Dave Modeen joined Mimi and George on Friday, February 8, to walk the site, observe exterior damage to the building and discuss its significance to the community. They were unable to get inside.
Dave Modeen spoke with Mari Steinbach, Director, City Parks and Recreation today (Feb 12th). He learned that City staff is moving forward with preparing a bid specification for the asbestos remediation and demolition. The time frame to prepare the specification, receive bids and award a contract is roughly two months. Mari said building construction experts consulted by the City were unanimous in their view that replacement rather than repair of the structure would be the most economic path, if there is to be a building.
Dave noted that many North Main residents are concerned and upset with losing the existing structure and the uncertainty of a replacement structure. The lack of information shared with the community provides little basis to understand and furthermore accept the staff’s recommendation for demolition. Mari understood and was encouraged to hear NMCA will facilitate a presentation by City staff of its findings and recommendations and engage in a dialog among residents. Mari asked that as part of the agenda the City staff would like to also discuss with those individuals affected by programs previously hosted at the Bobby Pearse Center. We agreed to establish an agenda that will include both aspects in one meeting
NMCA will work with Mari’s staff to schedule this presentation and dialog session within the next three weeks. Undoubtedly, there will be future public meetings with City staff or by City Council on this matter. We will keep you informed.
In the meantime, if you are interested in keeping a community center in the North Main neighborhood, please make your voice heard. Contact us, your city council members, the mayor, and tell your friends and neighbors to do the same. When there are meeting, please attend to express views or show support. The contact information for city staff can be found at the city website at https://www.greenvillesc.gov/283/City-Council