Hard Choices Ahead on Rec Center Auditorium

By Mike Phillips

The reports are in on a study of the costs of repairing the buildings in the Fernandina Beach Atlantic Recreation Center on Atlantic Avenue. The totals for four buildings range from $1,516,500 to $2,459,000.

The estimates were made last month by Kimley-Horn & Associates, a well-known engineering consultancy based in Jacksonville.

The big problem in the mix is the auditorium, whose west and south walls are highly unstable because the west wall has slipped several inches away from the foundation, creating major cracks. One result is a recommendation that the auditorium not be used in weather with winds higher than 25 miles per hour, which are quite common in our coastal environment.

The firm recommends this approach to repairs:

  • Underpin the two walls.
  • Then install crack monitoring equipment.
  • When the walls have stabilized, repair the west wall façade.
  • Seal cracks.
  • Replace the upper and lower roofs.
  • Clean and paint roof overhang supports.
  • Replace remaining windows.
  • Deal with depressed tiles in the entryway.

Total auditorium repairs: $1,255,500 to $1,941,00

And then, the firm recommends, budget to demolish the auditorium and replace it in two to four years.

Minus the repairs to the auditorium, repairs to the other buildings would run $261,000 to $518,000.

City commissioners have been discussing this issue for several years. Now they have numbers to guide them.

Clearly, the auditorium (which receives little use now) will be at the center of their discussions. Fix it now, then replace it soon at an even higher cost? Or just demolish it now and relegate it to Fernandina Beach memories?

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S. Russo
S. Russo(@waterboy1967)
1 year ago

The Rec Center is not on Sadler Road!! Please correct your article!!

Last edited 1 year ago by Waterboy1967
1 year ago

Sounds like a waste of money to repair.

Bob Virtue
Bob Virtue (@guest_67970)
1 year ago

I think it should be a tear down and rebuild rather than a repair, tear down and rebuild. Better yet, if the auditorium gets little or no use, why not tear it down and do not rebuild.

Thompson (@guest_67971)
1 year ago

Now would be the time for TDC and Nassau County to chip in. We all know that half the participants in rec center activities are not city residents. We also get many tourists that like to get their exercise. Time to pay up!

Guest (@guest_67972)
1 year ago
Reply to  Thompson

…or demolish the auditorium and install pickleball courts for city tax payers. County would pay a usage fee.

Dave Lott
Dave Lott(@dave-l)
1 year ago
Reply to  Guest

While I certainly agree that non-city residents should pay (more), how exactly would you monitor/collect such a fee? To staff the facility full-time for occasional use would cost more than the revenue it would generate.

Alyce Parmer
Alyce Parmer (@guest_67973)
1 year ago

Well, additional pickle ball courts are certainly a high priority, and I suppose they could be shared (with great creativity) with voters on election days, rain or shine.

Troy Walker
Troy Walker (@guest_67989)
1 year ago

I sincerely hope that diversity,equity and inclusion are top priority’s in whatever decision is reached.

Roy Chisolm
Roy Chisolm(@hwalker00)
1 year ago
Reply to  Troy Walker

That’s a joke or tongue-in-cheek? Correct?

Dave Lott
Dave Lott(@dave-l)
1 year ago

Demolish the auditorium and put the money into the Peck Center auditorium with a sound system and food preparation area for events. To put in $1-$2 million for a couple of years when usage is minimal and there is an alternative is just crazy.

Michael Carabetta
Michael Carabetta (@guest_68011)
1 year ago

why not convert the building into a hurricane shelter and get funding from the County like Hillard did?

The Nassau County town of Hilliard will get more than $5 million for a community center that may also come in handy during hurricane season.

Active Member
1 year ago

Let me get this straight, we’ll put millions into the Rec Center just so that it can be left to deteriorate once again? We have buildings all over that are in disgraceful disrepair due to lack of upkeep! City Hall is such a mess, what will be done about that? This city has no “plan” for maintenance of any property. Instead of acting and getting strict maintenance plans in order, we react and throw millions of taxpayers’ dollars away! This city wastes money hand over fist in so many ways and it has never been stopped! If we had a clear run down of attorney fees, consultants’ fees, paid time that city employees are not working and oh so many other things, citizens would be shocked at the total that I’ll venture a guess to say is easily in the millions!!! Wake up, this ship is sinking!

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_68095)
1 year ago
Reply to  Crew2120

Heritage, Crew. I like preserving our local, collective heritage. Lots of us think it important.

Marlene Chapman
Marlene Chapman(@crew2120)
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Warner

I agree it is important but with our history of never taking care or maintaining property, in a few years it will need even more money, so where does it stop?