07/20/14 — Herman Park Center will just get repairs; W.A. Foster will be rebuilt at new site

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Herman Park Center will just get repairs; W.A. Foster will be rebuilt at new site

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on July 20, 2014 1:50 AM

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Wayne Thornton, installer with Jackson & Sons, guides the old HVAC unit off of the roof of the Herman Park Center before putting a new unit in its place. The installers used a crane to lower the old unit and lift up the new ones.

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The city is moving forward, as promised with the new W.A. Foster Center.

The new W.A. Foster Recreation Center will be built in the coming months.

A city soccer field complex, too.

But after the failure of the May $18.9 million Parks and Recreation bond referendum, Herman Park Center renovations are on hold, and for now, repairs are the only work that will be done on the park's community center.

The bond passage would have resulted in a 2.4 cents increase in the city's property tax rate of 65 cents per $100 property valuation.

The proceeds from the sale of the bonds would have paid for renovations to Herman Park and Herman Park Center, the construction of a new W.A. Foster Recreation Center in Mina Weil Park, a multi-sports complex and funding to pave greenways in the city.

If the bond had passed, the city would be looking at a three- to five-year time frame to begin overhauling the center to add a basketball gym and a walking track as well as improving other activity spaces.

Goldsboro City Manager Scott Stevens said that time frame has been extended to 20 to 25 years -- and that the work will now be done piecemeal as the city's budget allows.

And for now, that means maintaining what the city has now.

"Maintenance will continue as it always has," Stevens said. "We will replace things when they break, budgeting maintenance funds and moving forward."

On Monday, two failed HVAC units, each nearly 20 years old, were replaced with new units to cool the Gray Room at the center.

Funds pulled from a Parks and Recreation line item paid for the two $9,000 units.

The building's membrane roof also has a leak that is letting rainwater pour into the Gray Room at the center.

The fix could require finding a spot where the caulk has pulled away leaving a gap or replacing the entire roof because of a tiny puncture to the membrane.

The city Public Works Department is currently looking at purchasing the necessary equipment to install membrane roofs in-house as well as training personnel to use the sprayers to do the work, Public Works Director Jose Martinez said.

Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard relates the repairs to Herman Park Center to additional payments on an already-paid-for building.

"Here we are ready to essentially make payments but not get a lot for our return," he said. "In 20 years, we're (still) going to have this."

In the meantime, city leaders have not discussed what to do next with regard to the city's parks and recreation needs.

A mistake in the wording of the May referendum would have forced a revote anyway -- even if the measure had passed.

Now, the city is left with a decision -- try the bond again or move forward with the money that is available and repair and rebuild as those dollars allow.

Goldsboro City Councilman Chuck Allen said he would not be opposed to holding another bond referendum for Herman Park Center combined with some other projects such as street paving or greenways in the future.

"We have not talked about it officially but there may be some other time we do a bond referendum," Allen said. "We could do Herman Park (Center) and do some asphalt paving, but we have not officially talked about it."

Allen said without a new bond vote, it will be three to five years before renovating the center can be discussed again.

For now, he said, the city will concentrate instead on the W.A. Foster Center. Renovations on that building will continue as planned.

"Herman Park Center is a piece of junk. It needs updating," Allen said. "It needs to be re-worked or re-built, but it was a lesser priority. It wasn't in as bad of shape as W.A. Foster."

To up-fit the center would be a $6 million need that Allen said he does not see in the budget anytime soon.

"I don't know any way of funding it right now," he said. "For three to five years, I don't know."

The city is set to begin interviewing firms to make plans for the new W.A. Foster in the coming weeks.

The new building will be larger, allowing adults and children to stay in the center at the same time instead of making adults leave after school hours.

The new building would have a wing for both age groups.

The debt service on the center would be paid mostly through the General Fund, with $2.5 million of the cost coming through Community Development funds.

The city plans to construct a dedicated entrance to the park from John Street to increase access to the facilities.

Allen also said that the city's planned soccer complex will pay for itself through tourism dollars.