11/01/07 — Playroom new add-on to city Rec Center plan

View Archive

Playroom new add-on to city Rec Center plan

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on November 1, 2007 1:55 PM

Moms and dads won't have to worry about finding a babysitter when they plan their workouts at the city's new community center.

The South Center Street facility will include a playroom, Recreation Center Committee members discussed Wednesday.

The committee met with designers from Pearce, Brinkley, Cease & Lee to discuss the change.

"When we first thought of this center, we didn't think of day care or a day care type facility," Chairman Chuck Allen said. "Then we backed up, and we thought it'd be a public mistake if we didn't have it."

The playroom would be a real asset for parents, he added.

"The theory is, you'd be in the facility while you're kid was in the playroom," Allen said.

"And there would need to be a way to monitor that," City Manager Joe Huffman said.

Committee members agreed they didn't want the playroom to be a place where children were watched for a few hours while their parents were off grocery shopping or paying bills. The playroom would just be for people using the facility during the daytime.

Huffman said having a day care facility in the center for city employee use was considered, but only 18 out of 500 employees showed an interest in using it.

The committee also decided to use the facility for after-school programs and summer recreation.

Committee members visualized having a few classroom-style settings for the playroom where the children would be split up into age groups. Architects Jeffrey Lee and Jennifer Attride said that plan would take a few minor changes, including more bathrooms. An outside playing area on the south end of the building and a third staircase were also possibilities.

Once the design comes back, the architects will meet with the city's planning department, and in particular, Planning Director Randy Guthrie, to make sure the building is up to the city's development standards.

The current plans are just about where the committee wants them to be, Allen said.

The main concern both now and when the first set of designs was revealed was the facade of the building -- which is to be dedicated in honor of local veterans.

"How to do a building facade that showcases a memorial with the proper amount of respect and honor associated with it, and at the same time, have an architectural element, is a challenge, but I think we have come up with some ideas," Lee said.

The new plans show a layered two-color brick on the exterior and less glass than the first set of designs. Lee and Ms. Attride also had suggestions for an exterior, vertical waterfall over a slate material, and the same material would continue inside to where memorial plaques would be hung. A brick seating area that starts from the outside and continues to the interior was another suggestion from the architects.

"The idea is that you sense the continuity," Lee said.

Many of the committee members said the proposed building designs would fit in more with the historical aspect of the downtown area, but Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan thought something was missing on the front of the building.

"It still looks like a box," she said.

"It looks like a box, but it is always going to look like a box," Allen said.

Ms. Logan suggested a way to break up a brick at the top of the building.

"What if we would use a horizontal line of different colored brick to break it up, like look at the Goldsboro Used Furniture building -- it has a line of red brick at the top," she said. "Or even a ledge of some sort."

The center is behind schedule by about eight weeks due to some tweaking that needed to be done to the plans, Mrs. Attride said, but the committee agreed that that wasn't entirely a bad thing.

"Construction costs are stabilizing, and it might even help us a bit to wait," Allen said.

"I agree," Lee said.

Huffman said if the committee and the city move forward slowly and carefully, they will have a positive outcome.

"And I think we're doing that," he said.