NEW ORLEANS -- City leaders shut down the gymnasium at the Treme Center again after two more injuries related to the post-Katrina renovations of the facility.
From new problems with the pool deck to a gym floor encircled with a rubber trip hazard, problems with the renovations at the Treme Center persist, something that has users and community members alike frustrated.
Cedric Grant, the deputy mayor for facilities, infrastructure and community development, agreed to meet with community members in recent weeks after activists say they’ve been seeking a meeting with top Landrieu administration leadership for months about the center.
That meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday night at the Treme Center.
A WWL-TV investigation into the Treme Center in May revealed a ballooning price tag for the renovations topping $6 million, and less than a year after it re-opened, users found the work that was done was plagued with problems.
“I've been in the Treme like 15, 20 years working, volunteering. And the Treme is like a sacred area,” said Belden Batiste, a long-time volunteer at the center.
He and other frequent users of the center say even after a more than $6 million renovation, parts of the Treme Center are still broken.
“You gotta be real. $6 million and nothing working in the building, but you can build a new facility down on St Claude and Poland for $6.1 million,” Batiste asked about other city projects.
“There's still some work that needs to be done. I don't know the details of the work. But I can say I'm extremely proud of the fact that we took a building from 1974-75 and made it pop,” said Vic Richard, the CEO of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission.
In March, the city shut down the pool for contractors to fix a problem with drainage around the deck.
After two months of work on it then, which was longer than expected, users say it's now slippery. Plus, they want answers about whether the dehumidification system is new.
“It makes loud noises. When the dehumidifier isn't operating properly, it sounds like you're in the midst of an airplane hangar. That is not the performance of a new piece of equipment,” said Amy Stelly, an urban designer who also uses the facility.
Back in May, New Orleans’ Capital Projects Director Vincent Smith said the system was new but that workers needed more instruction and training on how to use all of the climate controls in the pool area, including the pool heater.
The contractors were also supposed to fix the drainage in the showers in March to keep one person's wastewater draining at their own feet, but swimmers said Wednesday, there’s still a problem with the drainage.
“I went in the shower yesterday and I get all the suds from the next shower,” said Cecile Savage, a frequent Treme Center swimmer.
Two weeks ago, two more people tripped over a rubber “transition strip” in the center’s gymnasium. Incident reports compiled by NORDC showed a young man tripped and fell while playing basketball but wasn’t hurt.
The following night during a community function, 62-year-old Jacquein Holmes tripped and fell entering the gym. She was transported to the hospital with injuries to her side, her forehead and hand.
“When that incident happened, I arrived on the scene probably 20 minutes after it happened and I said, let this community event finish and we shut it down,” Richard said.
Contractors had installed the rubber “transition strip” around the edge of the basketball court because the new Gransprung gym floor isn't level with the area around it. Initially they used an aluminum strip, but another young man was cut on it.
Richard closed the gym in response to the latest incidents, but said he will allow summer camps to go on for children under age 12. According to Richard, additional staff will be added to supervise activities in the gym during the camps until a permanent solution can be found for the court.
The Gransprung floor was manufactured by a company in England and Richard said Wednesday that a representative from the manufacturer is expected to travel to New Orleans from England to help devise a solution to the problem with the floor.
Smith said in May that the transition strip was recommended by the architect to keep the construction costs down.
How much the additional repairs will cost the city is still unknown.