Mold removal complete at ES Community Center
The Eureka Springs Community Center Foundation has leapt over a major hurdle.
Chairwoman Diane Murphy reported last week that the foundation has completed mold remediation, passing its mold inspection with flying colors.
“The whole cleaning process has been completed, and we’ve had the building re-tested, so we know it’s clean and good to go,” Murphy said. “That was such a big, unexpected obstacle to overcome.”
The foundation had to put many plans on hold, Murphy said, to remove mold from the building. That meant raising more money and redirecting funds, she said.
“We had to deal with that to make it a safe place for everybody,” she said. “Now that we’ve been able to accomplish that, it means we actually get to move forward with everything we envisioned.”
The foundation is working to complete renovations on the gym’s lobby and restrooms, Murphy said. She explained how quickly that process is going, saying it should be done by the end of the week.
“New flooring has gone in. Everything’s been not only cleaned but painted,” Murphy said. “A new drop ceiling is in there and new countertops. It should all be fresh and ready to go.”
The next goal, Murphy said, was to complete renovations on the community meeting room.
The foundation will hold a ribbon cutting for that room at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, and it will be the site of “Vegetable Production: Growing from the Greenhouse to Outdoors” at 1 p.m. that day. Offered through the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, the course will teach locals about the growing season and planting dates for basic vegetable production.
“It’s exciting to be having that there,” Murphy said.
In the meantime, Murphy said, the foundation is raising money to meet the remaining $10,000 matching grant from the Windgate Family Foundation.
“We’ve applied for reimbursement funds periodically throughout this,” Murphy said. “We still have more we can get from them as we finish this match that will allow us to move on to hiring a part-time activities director and actually be able to start planning use of the facility.”
The gym should be open by March, Murphy said, making it even more important to have an activities director on-site.
“It’s pretty exciting to think about being able to do that here. I think people will be so appreciative of that and excited to have that open,” Murphy said. “To have a staff person to actually coordinate the activities and fees and all those sorts of things will make it easier.”
Though the gym should be open this year, Murphy said, the community center’s after-school program will remain at the Eureka Springs Elementary School until the end of the school year.
“We’re going to keep everything intact this school year and we’ll re-evaluate that the next school year in the context of keeping it open for the most people and providing a secure place for the program,” Murphy said.
The foundation continues to work on a perimeter trail surrounding the community center, Murphy said, and getting the office park ready to rent out.
“We are still working with getting design concepts. We’ve met with some trail engineers, and we’re kind of going back and forth on negotiations with them about what we can really do and what it’s going to cost even to get the design done,” Murphy said. “That’s absolutely a primary goal for this year. Now that we can at least have some stability with the building, we’ll focus on the trail and the office park building.”
In the immediate future, Murphy said, locals should look forward to using the gym and the community meeting room.
“Those are really big spaces and will really accommodate a lot of different things, just doing that much,” Murphy said. “The whole goal is to get to the point to being able to use the facility. We are finally now at the point where we’re going to be able to not 100 percent shift gears but at least go both directions instead of only one direction.”
Murphy reflected on how it felt to encounter the mold problem, saying she’s ecstatic to have that taken care of now.
“We were all just kind of devastated when we realized what the severity of the mold issue was. We had to redirect our energies toward solving a totally unexpected issue,” Murphy said. “Having that done is huge. It just feels like the biggest relief. We take a lot of comfort in knowing the building is now safe to use.”
Last January, Murphy remembered, the foundation had just torn down Building 100.
“I just think of all the things that have been accomplished in the last year, and I feel so proud of our board and so proud of our community for helping to make it all happen,” Murphy said. “It’s been a lot of progress in a year.”