Roofing and heating repairs top Kendrick Advisory Council’s list of priorities

There’s no doubt that the Kendrick Recreation Center on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough is in need of some serious TLC. 

While temperatures outside dropped to the 40s last week, members of the Kendrick Advisory Council sat, sweating, in temperatures well over 80 degrees with the windows open. The reason? There are no functioning thermostats in the steam-heated building that was built in 1926.

The newly-formed Council has been meeting monthly since October to assess and advocate for the building’s needs with the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“We have to set priorities,” said Eileen Sheridan, district manager for Parks and Recreation. “The heat and [roof] leaks have to be at the top,” a view echoed by Morgan Cephas, deputy chief of staff to Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. who said, “The heat is unbearable.”

But those are merely the first in a long list of priorities. 

Addressing the issues 

According to a sheet distributed at the meeting, Kendrick’s overriding priority is a new roof to replace the current leaking one. The damage caused by the leaks has rendered several of the center’s rooms unusable.

That’s in the works – at a community meeting in October, Parks and Recreation promised that a new roof would be installed in 2012 – but is still in the planning stages, according to Cephas. She said that preliminary work would be done next week with an inspection of the roof and walls, but that no date for the start of construction had been set.

Other needs include electrical work, including new 220-volt lines in some rooms and additional electrical outlets; the need to make the building handicapped accessible; the replacement of bathrooms; better lighting and security cameras on the grounds; re-grading and re-sodding the ball fields; and considerable work on the pool, including re-pointing the walls surrounding the pool, new changing areas, and changing the depth of the shallow end of the pool to three-feet from its current four-foot depth, so smaller children can use it.

In addition, taking down a wall in the basement would free up space and allow Kendrick’s boxing program to move to the basement from the upstairs auditorium. Right now the auditorium can’t be used as a performance space; the Broadway Rox performance group headquartered at Kendrick has had to cancel two scheduled holiday performances. 

Committees, security and appreciation 

All that would take a lot of money – an estimated $1 million – that the city can’t afford in its current financial condition. One example of its current financial straits was a question raised by advisory council member Ernie Barille, who said that he heard that the hours of the assistant recreation leaders at all rec centers were to be cut.

“We were told that 89 hours for every assistant recreation leader would be cut.” Sheridan said, “Then we heard that they wouldn’t be. But cuts will have to be made elsewhere to make up the deficit.” 

Cephas advised that next steps for the advisory council would be to form committees to discuss and plan in specific areas, such as a funding committee to explore private and government grants, and committees on recreation, fields, safety, outreach and capital projects, among others. “Everybody here decides what committee you’d like to be on,” said Kendrick Recreation Leader Bill Malizia, who chaired the meeting. He said that he would be responsible for coordinating the activities of the various committees.

In other news at the meeting, Officer Charles Kline of the 5th Police District assured council members that “Kendrick is on our radar screen” in the wake of recent incidents of night-time loitering and vandalism in the playground area, and that regular checks would be made of the grounds.

Morgan Serbin, 10, and daughter of John Serbin and Holly Thrash, was presented with a certificate of appreciation for her alert response this summer when she noticed that a three-year-old toddler was in the process of falling into the pool and pulled him to safety.

The next meeting of the Kendrick Advisory Council will be held Thursday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. at Kendrick. Malizia emphasized that volunteers are needed for all committees. For more information or to volunteer call him at 215-685-2584 or e-mail to kendrickrecreationcenter@gmail.com.

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