Empty stocking: Dec. 21

CNJ staff

As sunlight pokes through the cracks in the foundation of the city-owned Youth Recreation Building, Parks and Recreation Director Rob Carter delivers a laundry list of reasons why he thinks the building should be demolished.

The tiles are cracked, the roof leaks and there is no electricity. When it rains, he said, the 5,000-square-foot building turns into a giant puddle of trash, exercise equipment and who-knows-what else.

Carter and the Parks and Recreation Board sought approval last week from the Clovis City Commission to demolish the building, which was last used by Play Inc. as a day-care facility more than two years ago.

The request was tabled, and city commissioners asked Carter for cost estimates for demolition and repairs by the next City Commission meeting in January. Maybe, city commissioners said, there could be some use for the building on the northeast corner of Seventh and Sycamore streets.

That was good news for Clovis resident Lonnie Pickel, a member of the Clovis Bowhunters Club, who said club members need a place to practice.

“As a taxpayer I think it is a worthwhile building. To me, (Carter) is amplifying the costs. He’s trying to justify a reason to tear it down,” Pickel said.

While Carter didn’t provide commissioners with price estimates, he did say repair costs would outweigh demolition costs by several thousand dollars. It would cost roughly $20,000 to foam the roof alone, he said.

Knowing Pickel’s interest in the building, Commissioner Kevin Duncan on Thursday presented the option of selling the building to the Clovis Bowhunters for $1 and letting the group repair the building themselves.

Pickel said his group would likely buy the building if the city offered it for $1, just as long as the city included the building’s parking lot.

“I don’t know if that’s going to be a workable deal or not,” City Manager Joe Thomas said, “but I don’t want to shut the door on them.”

Duncan and several other commissioners said they’d like to find some use for the building, even it doesn’t stay city property.

Thomas said finding a cost-effective way to refurbish the building where it can be used for storage may be the building’s best chance to avoid demolition.

One option included an evidence room for Clovis police, something Duncan said is risky since the building is in an unsecured area.

Considering its condition, Carter and the Parks and Recreation Board recommended tearing down the building even without cost estimates for either repairs or demolition.
Not long after the day-care center shut down, vandals climbed in through vents in the roof and spray painted and wrecked much of the equipment, Carter said.

“No one’s wanted to use the building,” Carter said, “since that happened.”