The Chester Hynes Community Center's new flooring may be damaged from a leaking roof, an alderman and a parent indicated Friday afternoon.
The Chester Hynes Community Center’s new flooring may be damaged from a leaking roof, an alderman and a parent indicated Friday afternoon.
The Pine Bluff City Council approved $85,000 for improvements to the center in July, including funding to replace the gym floor. According to a list attached to the budget amendment, the funding would pay for replacing the skylights in the gym and a new gym floors, among other improvements.
Damaris Mims, who has a son enrolled in the center’s after-school program, said she was “shocked and upset” to find the unfinished gym floor covered with 10 to 15 buckets to catch water leaking from the roof.
“They didn’t have enough buckets for all the leaks,” she told The Commercial. “It’s still leaking and getting on the floor.”
Mims said she was told the city had repaired the roof and wondered if the contractor provided a warranty for the work.
“I would like to know where he (Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr.) spent the money,” she said.
Mims said she called Fourth Ward Alderman Steven Mays and Peter F. Daniels Jr., both candidates for mayor, to see the wet gym floor.
“If I had President Obama’s number, I would have called him to,” Mims said.
Mays said he had been told the roof would be repaired before work on the gym floor started, adding he also counted 10 to 15 leaks falling in the gym.
Daniels was not immediately available for comment and Redus did not answer a call to his cell phone Friday evening.
When reached Friday afternoon, Parks and Recreation Department Director Angela Parker told The Commercial in a text message she was in a remote river area where cell service “was awful.”
In a second text reply, Parker said officials were aware Thursday night of the leaks at the center, adding Redus put City Public Works Coordinator Larry Matthews in charge of making repairs.
“He (Redus) keeps taking us out of the loop,” Parker said in the text message.
Lee Meadows, the Hynes center director in 2007, said the roof was the original one put on the building when it was built in the 1980s, adding leaks from the roof had gotten so bad that lights and smoke detectors had shorted out because of water.
The conditions of the Chester Hynes and Merrill community centers surfaced years ago. Leaking roofs, bare electrical wires that were exposed and damaged equipment were the norm, not the exception, city employees acknowledged.
On Aug. 15, The Commercial reported on another matter regarding renovations with the floor at Chester Hynes. Four members of the crew working to replace the gym floor were allegedly “illegally in the country,” according to a Pine Bluff Police Department report on the incident.
The Chester Hynes Community Center is owned by the city and public money is being used to fund the project, which was bid by Sports Floors Inc. of Memphis for $35,737.
Redus said at the time that there were no arrests associated with the incident. Matthews said then that he had spoken to the owner of the company, who told him that all the employees were legal.
On July 31, parks officials conducted a walk through of Chester Hynes following complaints about improper painting. Following that visit, the painting contractor agreed to take corrective action.