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Completion of new Inwood recreation center delayed by high moisture problems

August 20, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The completion of the W. Randy Smith Recreation Center has been delayed by high moisture levels in the concrete on which the building’s gym flooring is to be installed.

“It’s like we’re cursed or something,” Steve Catlett, executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation board, told board members Tuesday.

The 18,200-square-foot building on the campus of Musselman High School was on track to be turned over by this month, but Catlett reported Tuesday that the flooring work cannot be guaranteed under warranty if the moisture content of the concrete is above 85 percent.

Board members agreed not to take the risk of the floor buckling due to the moisture level, which Catlett said once stood at 95 percent, but has dropped to 88 percent.

Catlett told board members that the parks and recreation board is not in a financial position to replace the floor, which he estimated would cost about $100,000.

The concrete work and other aspects of the project were revisited in a search for the solution, but no explanation for the high moisture level has been found, Catlett said.

“Everybody’s dumbfounded,” Catlett said. “There’s not one single person who can explain it.”

Once the moisture level drops, Catlett said it will take about four weeks to complete the flooring work and install seating, which can’t be done until after the floor is complete.

“It’s totally useless to us without a gym floor,” Catlett said. “It’s like Abe Lincoln without the Civil War and the slavery issue.”

W. Randy Smith, a Powerball jackpot winner and former Berkeley County sheriff and magistrate, made two contributions totaling $2.1 million for the project, which was awarded to Martinsburg-based W. Harley Miller Contractors Inc. in April 2012.

The cost of the project, including change orders and other additions, now stands at about $2.3 million, Catlett said.

Catlett said he is working to raise another $15,000 in private donations to avoid having to dig into the parks and recreation board’s general operating budget for the project. He said concession and office equipment, and folding tables and chairs also still must be purchased.

A dedication ceremony had been eyed for September or October in an effort to accommodate Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s and Smith’s schedules, but given the flooring delay, the celebration might not be held until late October or early November, Catlett said.

Other than the flooring issue, Catlett said the recreation center is “one really terrific building.”

In other business, Catlett told board members that he has received “nothing but positive” feedback on a proposal to implement a swipe-card system and user fee for the community’s first dog park, which is being built at Ambrose Park in Martinsburg.

No action was taken by the parks and recreation board on the proposal Tuesday, but Catlett said low-voltage electricity service is being extended to the dog park area to accommodate a swipe-card system, should it be approved. Water service also is being extended for drinking fountains.

In July, Catlett suggested board members consider charging an annual membership/user fee to encourage the community to take ownership of the dog park.

The Wurzburg Dog Park is being built in the park off Mall Drive in Martinsburg thanks to a donation by city residents Travis and Scarlett Hill on behalf of their family.

The dog park is among several improvements under way at the park. Catlett said a new playground area there is nearly complete and open for use.

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