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A million-dollar look by June // Recreation center gets face lift

A million-dollar face lift to the city's Southwest Recreation Center is under way.

Built in 1984, this is the first major renovation Southwest has had, said Dave Roberts, facilities manager for the city.

Moisture retention, inside and out, is the reason for most of the needed improvements to the two main buildings, Roberts said.

"The buildings have never shed water well," he said.

As a result, both the pool building and the recreation center will get new roofs. The new ones will come with 2-foot overhangs that will direct water away from the buildings underneath, Roberts said.

The outsides of both buildings will be pressure-washed to remove the old paint. Then, both the inside and outside of the buildings will get coats of Elastomeric, a type of paint that Roberts said allows walls "to breathe."

"If moisture gets in, it can escape in a gas form," Roberts said.

Carpeting and tile in the recreation building is to be replaced and new doors made of fiberglass that won't corrode will be hung.

The entire heating/cooling system will be cleaned and moved from a mezzanine to the ground level.

While all this work is going on, Ed Smith, Southwest's director, plans to keep classes and activities proceeding on a regular schedule as much as possible.

"We've had to get creative," Smith said. "But so far only one or two classes have been canceled."

Smith said construction crews don't seem to mind working around ongoing activities. And recreation program participants have not objected when they have been shifted from one place to another.

The large, Olympic-sized pool building with its high-rise diving towers (the tallest is 10 meters) is an early priority so the facility will be ready for meets that begin in May, Smith said.

And Circus For The Kids, a tradition at Southwest during public school spring break, should not be affected by the renovations.

Rick Bacon, from the Rick Bacon Design Group in Safety Harbor, is the project's architect. Thorpe Construction of Palm Harbor is the contractor. The upgrades should be completed by June 10, in time for summer camp, Smith said.