Community center brings high maintenance costs

Published 3:05 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Kenbridge Community Center will receive $10,000 in repairs that town leaders say must be done before the weather turns very cold.

The Community Center is where the town offices and police department are housed and where the council meets. It also houses a few renters and has additional office space for rent.

Severe leaks on the exterior of the building and inside some plaster caused damage to window seals and molding.

“It cost what it cost to fix it,” Mayor Emory Hodges said. “If we don’t fix it, we’ll have a lot more bills long term.”

Originally the Kenbridge High School, it was built in 1921, designed by noted Richmond architect Charles M. Robinson. The structure sat vacant for years before finding a new life as the centerpiece of some of the town’s revitalization efforts and its Fifth Avenue Historic District. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

Councilman Ken Blackburn noted that since the town did not have money set aside for the project, providing the funding may mean cutbacks or delays on other projects — such as relocating the treasurer’s and town manager offices in the building.

“We’ll just have to tighten our belt on something else,” Blackburn said. “We can’t allow the building to continue to be damaged.” The conversation about the repairs then turned into a discussion how the town needs to do a better job of planning ahead for various projects and purchases.

“It always seems it comes as a surprise when somebody says, ‘We need a new garbage truck, police car,’” he said. “I think this is something that needs to say on the radar.”