A city recreation facility closed since August is ready to open this week.
Roanoke Rapids Parks and Recreation Director John Simeon said Chaloner Recreation Center, located near Highway 158 near the Hodgestown community, is set to reopen at 10 a.m. Monday.
The center, located near Chockoyotte Creek, suffered heavy water damage Aug. 25 when the creek rose up the hill and put the building under two feet of water, knocking out the power, heating and air conditioning systems, said Roanoke Rapids Building Maintenance Supervisor Mike Manning.
As the flooding was happening, Simeon was unable to get a vehicle to the building with the creek running hard over nearby Glover Street. Manning, who was in a boat, was able to get closer to the facility.
Once the waters receded, the damage was easier to assess.
“The building was full of mud and sludge,” Manning said.
While two feet of water doesn’t seem like much, it can be, and was significant.
“Everything within two feet of the floor of this facility had to be replaced,” Simeon said. “That doesn’t sound like much, but walk around your home and think about all the things that are within two feet of the floor, and you’ll see how much it is.”
The HVAC system had to be replaced, but even more, it had to be put up on a high platform in case Chockoyotte Creek rises again.
All the electrical wiring had to be replaced, the mud and sludge had to be removed by a professional cleaning company — Country Cleaners in Roanoke Rapids — and every wooden item inside had to be thrown out.
Once the place was cleaned up, all that was left was the building’s shell.
The facility, which has stood since 1968, was able to be brought up to 2013 standards by the repairs, which included the new HVAC and the upgraded wiring, along with fresh paint and other small improvements.
The rec center will seem different to long-time users once it opens Monday, Manning added.
Eventually, Simeon said, other upgrades will be installed, including a Wii gaming system so those using the facility can get exercise with their games, just as is done at Jo Story Senior Center.
Sometime within weeks of reopening, Simeon said, the building will be in “full swing.”
City Manager Joseph Scherer said the Chaloner Recreation Center is a vital part of what the city provides to Hodgestown.
“It’s a portion of the city that the other recreation facilities are not close by, so it’s the one area where we can provide recreation to that part of the community,” Scherer said. “We’re excited to get that place reopened.”
Simeon commended Manning’s building and maintenance staff, and said the total cost of the repairs, $52,000, was a much lower figure than what he thought it would cost. Once City Council appropriated the money after the flooding, staff has been working to get the facility, which draws heavy reservation activity on weekends, open and ready.
“This place is an icon for anyone who grew up in this neighborhood,” Simeon said. “And I have to commend (Manning) and his staff, and the community will definitely see the hard work that went into this building when we open.”
Scherer said the facility will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday.