Brand new $2 Million Gulfport recreation center needs thousands in repairs

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Less than three months after opening its doors, the brand new $2 million Gaston Hewes Recreation Center in Gulfport is in need of tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. Gulfport city officials say the heavy rains that flooded much of South Mississippi a month ago damaged the floor in the gymnasium. Officials say fixing the basketball court solves only half the problem.

Naisha Walker says the Gaston Hewes Recreation Center had been a great place to go to a pick up game, but that's not the case lately.

"It's usually packed in here. Like a whole bunch of people in here all the time," said Walker. "I'm guessing because of the floor, there are not a lot of people in here because they can't go full court."

Full court games had to take a time out after a section of the basketball court buckled. City officials say water from heavy rains seeped in at the base of the building then soaked the padding under the wood floor.

Edmund Salloum is Gulfport's director of Leisure Services.

"We had the contractor who originally put the floor down come and give an estimate. We're looking at approximately $54,000 to repair. What they've determine is they're going to replace about half of the existing floor," Salloum said.

Before the replacement can begin, city officials say they have some questions that need answering. They want to know why water that was supposed to run down the side of the building and into storm drains ended up in the recreation center.

"We certainly don't want to fix it [the floor] until we've solved the problem, or we could be back in the same situation," said Salloum. "What we're doing is we've had several meetings with the architect, with the contractor, with our city engineering, public works to determine just what the problem is that caused it and what we've got to do to get that resolved."

Naisha Walker says once the court is completely open, many of the players will be back to shoot hoops.

Walker said, "People have got a lot of talent. They like competition, so they like to come and see how many they can play against to see who they can beat."

Gulfport city officials say they hope to have the repairs done in 90 days. Officials say it has not yet been determined whether the city or the contractor will pay the cost of the repairing the floor.

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