Community sounds off after Treme Center closed for more repairs

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 28, 2014 at 10:31 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS - No more quick fixes -- that's what Treme community members demanded at a meeting with city officials Wednesday night.

An Eyewitness News investigation revealed that the newly renovated Treme Center is riddled with problems caused by shoddy construction work.

Activists say they've been trying to meet with city officials about the growing number of problems for months, and Wednesday the community finally got the chance to voice their frustrations and safety concerns.

"From day one this job hasn't been right," said Belden Batiste. "This is a bubble gum operation. Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and the Blind Boys of Alabama could have done a better job."

The cost to renovate the Treme Center stands at $6.1 million. It's an amount that stings when residents see what their taxpayer dollars paid for.

"I don't see it," Janet Hayes said. "$6.1 million should pay for a lot of improvements and I don't see those improvements."

Once again, the Treme Center's new, state-of-the-art gymnasium is closed due to more injuries and growing safety concerns about trip hazards on the floor.

It's one of many problems plaguing the facility, but with summer camp set to start next week, it was a major concern for parents at Wednesday's meeting.

"That's a problem, to have children come in and run around," said Treme Center employee and parent Deshawn Ridgley. "They are definitely going to fall and hurt themselves as well."

City officials assure the community that, despite being only a temporary fix, the gym floor has been repaired and will be safe for the kids to use during summer camp. However, officials said it will remain closed to the general public.

At the meeting community members pressed city officials about how they ultimately plan to correct the problems. In response, city officials deflected the blame for the ongoing issues and said they plan to hold the contractor accountable.

"A certain amount of money is being withheld, per the contract, based on performance," assured NORDC CEO Vic Richards.

Still, community members say that is not good enough, especially since the contractors have been back numerous times to fix the same problems.

"My question is, can anyone say specifically what the situation was before the repairs and what the end result is?" said one person at the meeting. "What was broken and what was fixed?"

City officials say a representative for the manufacturer of the gransprung flooring will be in New Orleans Monday to help find a permanent fix.

 

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