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Saline parks and recreation director Carla Scruggs, May 2017.

A Busy Center Gets a Fix-Up

Saline gets on top of its rec center roof problem.

by Sheila Beachum Bilby

From the July, 2017 issue

In an early morning routine, several retirees chat as they log steady miles on treadmills, while younger, earbud-equipped exercisers on a row of elliptical machines go for the burn. In the nearby natatorium, upbeat music ushers a group of middle-aged women into an hour of water aerobics, and swimmers in nearby lanes dutifully count laps. Young men pump iron in the second-floor weight room, and others shoot hoops in the gymnasium.

The Saline Recreation Center has drawn a wide cross-section of the community since it opened in 1991. City manager Todd Campbell calls it "one of the jewels in the community's crown."

"We're there for the health and wellness of our community," said Carla Scruggs, the city's parks and recreation director. She calls the center one of the city's "essential services.

"What I see is our community, young and old, using the facility a lot," she says, "and if they didn't have that, I think we would have a much different picture of Saline."

But the center's roof has been a chronic problem. Starting in early August, contractors will begin a $1.47 million, xADfourteen-week project to replace the upper exterior wall panels and 35,000-square-foot roof, half of which is original and half refurbished just six years ago. The work includes replacing the upper windows on the building's north side this year and painting the interior of the natatorium in early September 2018. The pool will close for a couple of weeks next year for the painting, but the center will remain open during the roof work.

This will be the roof's third and, officials hope, final repair. A $1.3 million renovation in 2006 included replacing roof decking and installing a vapor barrier. But just five years later, the center's staff noticed "some undulations in the roof, like underneath the membrane, and that alerted us that something was going on that wasn't supposed to happen," Scruggs says.

The problem was caused by moisture from the pool area. The roofing contractor from 2006

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returned to make repairs, donating the labor and supplies. But last year, high winds in March had city workers scrambling to distribute sandbags to weigh down areas of the roof where the roof membrane had become partially disconnected. In a temporary fix late last year, workers secured the membrane with metal batten strips.

This time, the city is determined to get on top of the problem. A reliable city contractor recommended Mays Consulting & Evaluation Services Inc. of Delaware, Ohio, which has extensive experience with natatorium roofs.

Mays president Gary Mays says the original roof was poorly designed, with unsealed liner panels that allowed warm, humid air from the natatorium to get into the walls and roof system. Though a vapor barrier was installed in 2006, it didn't extend all the way to the walls around the full perimeter, so moisture kept getting into the walls, liner panels, and roof. In addition to damaging the roof, the moisture saturated and degraded insulation and started corroding steel beams and other parts of the structure.

Mays' firm will design the new roof and oversee construction. "Everything we can see will be remediated," he says, including repairs to masonry and cleaning and new sealants on the exterior walls below the metal panels.

Mays says the new membrane roof will have either a standard twenty-year warranty or thirty-year warranty if city council opts to pay extra for a thicker membrane. Either way, he says, "I wouldn't expect any kind of issues in the future for the building envelope."

While the recreation center's $1.9 million annual operating budget is largely paid for through user fees, the city provides an annual $150,000 subsidy and pays for large maintenance projects such as the new roof. The money will come from a bond issue to be repaid over fifteen years.

Scruggs said the recreation center has seen its membership rise significantly since January 2013, when the city expanded eligibility to anyone who lives in the Saline School District. Membership packages sold annually have increased from 2,000 to 2,600. With couple, family, and corporate memberships, that's a total of about 8,000 people.

Scruggs has told the city council that she will continue to explore options for increasing membership, perhaps through more services and amenities. City officials also will consider ways to bolster the facility's operating budget, possibly through future fee hikes. They don't anticipate, though, that the center will need any additional taxpayer support.

"We're doing very well," Scruggs says. "We're growing every year."    (end of article)

[Originally published in July, 2017.]


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