New furnaces keep city gym going

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(Posted Feb. 7, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Staff Writer

The city of London is installing new gas furnaces at the Community Center on Walnut Street.

The boiler system stopped working, leaving the gymnasium without heat at the peak of the city’s youth basketball league.

Brightway Institute owns the building (formerly London Middle School) and allows the city to use the gym for recreation programs.

The city sold the building for $1 to Brightway Institute two years ago. The institute’s founders planned to renovate the building for use as a two-year junior college and workforce development school.

The property sale contract stipulated that Brightway obtain financing to complete renovations, including a new heating system, by June 1, 2016. Renovations and classes have yet to take place in the building.

Concerned about security in the vacant part of the property and condition of the property as a whole, city council adopted legislation last month that aims to put the property back under city ownership.

In the meantime, Tammy Braskett, city parks and recreation director, found other places to hold basketball practices and games. Over 200 children in grades K-6 participate in the league, practicing throughout the week and playing games on Saturdays.

“The First Baptist Church, The Vineyard, Mandy’s Daycare, St. Patrick School and London City Schools opened their doors for us to use, so we could keep our successful basketball league going,” said Mayor Patrick Closser. “I cannot thank them, the coaches, players, parents and Tammy enough for their help when we needed it.”

Crews installed two furnaces in time to allow the basketball league to play its post-season tournament back in the Community Center gym. Volleyball started on Feb. 5. Two more furnaces are being installed now. All four furnaces are needed to fully heat the gym.

“We need to make sure that we are running these programs for the kids,” Closser said. “When (the heating) didn’t get taken care of, we stepped up to the plate. We’re still looking at if we will seek reimbursement (for the furnaces) or just get the building back. We’ll wait to see how it shakes out.”

In other city business:

  • Council member Rex Castle is still looking for volunteers to serve on a citizens committee to review and make recommendations on a proposed wage increase for elected officials and appointees. He said three people have said “yes;” he needs two more.
  • Council approved the appointment of Michelle Anders to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Her term runs through Dec. 31, 2021.
  • On the recommendation of Jennifer Hitt, city law director, council changed its rules to allow quorums for council votes based on the current number of “sworn and seated council members.”

Two of council’s seven seats are vacant following the recent resignations of Ward 1 representative Trint Hatt and Ward 3 representative Lora A. Long. The Madison County Republican Central Committee will meet March 6 to appoint replacements.

“We need to continue to do business. We can’t stop business to wait for the replacements,” Closser said.

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