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updated: 8/10/2012 8:02 PM

St. Charles rec center mold gone, but costs remain

Rec center's little-used areas are safe, may not get fixed

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After $100,000 worth of tearing open walls and ceilings, the mold discovered a week ago inside the John B. Norris Recreation Center on the campus of St. Charles East High School is gone.

But the major decision for St. Charles Unit District 303 officials moving forward is how many taxpayer dollars should be spent to make sure mold doesn't return to a little-used portion of the building.

A remediation team found mold in the ceilings and walls of three racquetball courts at the recreation center. The mold formed because of bad building design, a leaky roof and deferred maintenance in that section, according to a report released by school district officials Friday.

Air testing to make sure all the mold spores are gone was expected to conclude Friday. Superintendent Don Schlomann said the racquetball areas are safe, but they won't be used until the walls are restored.

Students never use the racquetball courts, Schlomann said. And racquetball has become less and less popular with recreation center members over the years.

"We're going to have to look at the expense of repairing this area," Schlomann said. "Until the school board makes some decisions, we don't really know the costs."

There is still a lingering question about who will pay those costs. The school district maintains the center, but the nonprofit recreation center board is the only user of the problematic area. Schlomann said he doesn't think there's any way to hold the original builders and architects accountable.

"The problem with that is a part of this is failure on our part to fully repair things along the way to prevent this from getting to the extent it did," Schlomann said. "We've got about 30 years of use out of this part of the building already. So it's not just poor design; it's the deferred maintenance as well."

Schlomann said it seems a bit odd that a roof that's leaked from the start has never showed signs of that until now. Recreation center officials have said they never had an issue with the roof when they were responsible for the maintenance.

"They say there has not been any indication of that, so we're just moving forward at this point," Schlomann said.

A committee of school board members will meet in September to discuss roof repairs and restoring the walls and ceiling that were removed during the remediation. Until then, the area will be closed off. School officials said this will not impact the opening of school.

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