By Troy Hudson
The HUB gymnasium, home court of SMCC’s SeaWolves and Lady SeaWolves, has been closed indefinitely due to water damage following heavy rain in South Portland on Monday, April 16. According to Facilities and Project Manager Jay Reny, the seams of the 25-year-old rubber membrane covering the upper portion of the roof had become compromised by high winds in fall of 2017. Although that initial damage was swiftly repaired, more extensive repair work was needed but was awaiting warmer weather to complete.
Unfortunately, Monday’s storm resulted in leakage around the stressed seams, spilling water onto the floor below. “Unfortunately, when you’re talking about wood being wet and then drying, you have to be concerned with areas that curl up,” said Reny. The flooring of the gymnasium dates from 1969 and employs a clip-rail system, wherein the wooden floor panels are clipped into rails connected to the subfloor. This results in a space between the wood and the subfloor, which Reny is concerned may now be compromised by trapped water.
“It may not look like much, but we want to take a very careful, precautious approach for putting that back into place,” he said. “Safety is foremost on our minds and we don’t want anyone to get hurt by tripping on one of those or landing on one of the edges.”
At the time of writing, a flooring expert was expected to evaluate the potential damage to the floor on Monday, April 23, by taking moisture readings at various points along the floor. Estimates for repair costs are pending that assessment, but the damage has already begun to exact a cost on the College. Although basketball season is over until the fall, the gym continues to be used by some student athletes, and is ordinarily rented out to third parties for functions in the off-season.
“We’ve had to cancel use of the gym for some of our athletic teams,” said Athletic Director Matt Richards. These include the men’s and women’s basketball and soccer teams, which use the gym for off-season conditioning. “Where can some of our athletic teams go?” asked Richards. “You know, that’s hard. The spaces in the local area are being used up a lot. I’ve already spoken to some places about finding locations for some of the [events] that were scheduled in the facility. I’ve been able to find homes for some of them; others are just going to be flat-out cancelled.”
Some events that were scheduled to take place in the HUB include youth basketball practices and hosting of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Maine State Championships. Although the Athletics Department isn’t funded directly by facilities rentals, they do provide welcome funding for expansion and renovation. “If we had earmarked some [other] things to do, bigger purchases, any type of renovation work in other areas, certainly those will have to be adjusted.”
The long-term impacts of the damage will be clearer after Monday’s assessment. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed on the impacts,” said Richards. “Certainly I would like to get the facility back to its intended use, which was providing athletic and recreational opportunities to the campus community and to the greater community. We will certainly take the advice of the industry experts in terms of our next steps in getting the facility back into its intended use.”
Categories: Cover Stories