Council members heard an update from the parks department that lacked any cost estimates for modernizing the aging center at 510 Lawrence St. The center has $1.1 million set aside for improvements from the city’s 2009 parks bond.
Parks and Recreation Director Rich Buss said his staff is still working on price quotes for the demolition of the damaged pool, which was drained in 2007.
The city drafted plans in 2011 that propose replacing the pool with a large playground, group pavilion, water spray feature and a concrete plaza that leads to a set of stairs and ramp allowing access from Washington Avenue.
Councilwoman Annette Lewis said she hopes the outside additions to the back of the Lawrence Street Center will make it a more appealing entrance to that area of the neighborhood.
Buss’s report ended with “no cost or design analysis has been initiated at this time.”
Lewis said she hopes the staff can get more information together for a special meeting of the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Committee on June 5.
That would give the committee a chance to make further additions and give staff more of a direction before the next full round of City Council committee meetings, which are not scheduled until June 26.
a new PAL?
The site is being eyed as the future home of the Police Athletic League, which has no permanent home for its youth activities.
PAL’s interest in the Lawrence Street Center comes with a wish list of updates to the property.
Lewis said she is supportive of PAL, which serves 125 to 150 kids a day through free tutoring and mentoring along with athletic activities.
The wish list includes a skateboard area with modular equipment and a small picnic area at the back of the property.
Lewis said the outside areas can be open to the public without participating in PAL. “It has the potential for more community use,” she said.
PAL gave the city a vision for the Lawrence Street Center that would utilize nearly every square inch of the building, which hasn’t happened for years.
The changes to the building included renovating the basement for an existing boxing program, replacing or repairing the HVAC, installing new lights in the basement, repairing the roof, replacing the gymnasium floor, renovating the kitchen area to install a counter for a concession stand, converting the front office into a small computer lab, renovating the locker room and converting the lifeguard room into a PAL office.
“None of those are major things,” Lewis said.
A new look
According to Buss’s report, the master plan for the Lawrence Street Recreation Center originally included removing the pool and existing building, and constructing a new 3,500-square-foot building.
This approach was to accommodate a place for parties and meetings that 17 percent of respondents said “is in great demand” on a survey from August to September of 2012.
Lewis said the recent acquisition of a large building next to Custer Park, previously owned by Turner Chapel, could meet these needs, which would allow Lawrence Street Recreation Center to remain focused on organized recreational activities. She added that now that the direction is favoring renovation, the project can be completed quicker.
However, during Wednesday’s meeting there were no specifics given on improvements to the exterior of the recreation center, which has many aesthetic and maintenance issues that need to be addressed, Councilman Anthony Coleman said.
Coleman said it will require more than minor fixes to make the center appealing and he is still requesting figures on whether the cost of the renovations would be less than demolishing the building to erect a new facility.
Councilman Grif Chalfant agreed that the completed project — whether it’s new or renovated — should have an appealing look “to make it pop” in the neighborhood.