Arlington's Eunice Activity Center may not reopen after millions more in damages discovered
Arlington's Eunice Activity Center, known for its programming for elderly residents, may remain closed for good after more structural damage was found, according to city council members.
The council's Transportation and Municipal Infrastructure Committee did not recommend moving forward with additional repairs that would have put the cost of repairing the building over $2 million.
The recommendation is the latest in a years-long closure first caused by the coronavirus pandemic, then damage sustained during the February 2021 winter storm. Residents who relied on Eunice Activity Center as a place to dance have waited for years for their beloved venue to return.
"We're aware these citizens are not going to be happy they won't have a place yet. They were anticipating that happening," said Raul Gonzalez, committee chair. "But we also represent the taxpayers, and we have to be smart with the money and not spend money on a building that's not worth spending that money on."
Those who organized dances implored Arlington City Council in September 2021 to reopen the space or make a new one.
Thelma Smith said during a 2021 council meeting that the dances brought in as many as 180 seniors on Fridays. The closure forced them to seek out more expensive venues.
"At least once a night we meet and I get asked the question, 'When are we moving back to the Eunice Street location?' Each time I've had to tell them, 'Not yet,'" she told council at the time.
The initial repair plans cost the city $990,556 and called for fixing interior damage and replacing the roof and eight HVAC units. However, the discovered multiple structural issues raised the price.
The rising bill triggered a city requirement that improvements that exceed a quarter of the building and property values must be brought up to city energy and flooding prevention standards. The final bill put the price tag well above half the building's $3.7 million value.
The city had paid $382,717 so far for the project, according to a council presentation.
"Right now the building's unsafe and not stable, so the committee is making the recommendation to stop the work because of the unsafe nature of the building," Gonzalez said. He added the group will work with Arlington's parks and recreation department to relocate programming.
The Dottie Lynn Recreation Center has served as a hub for senior programs, and other recreation centers provide some form of programming. Construction began in January on the Active Adult Center, which is geared towards residents 55 and up. The center is expected to open in late 2024 or early 2025.
Barbara Odom-Wesley, a committee member and District 8 council member, said a facility at Meadowbrook Park will accommodate senior citizens.
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