Structural Concerns Close Dunmore Gym

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DUNMORE -- A heavily used gymnasium at a popular community center in Lackawanna County is now off limits.

Officials in Dunmore say the gym at its community center is not structurally sound and it's possible it's been that way for seven years.

Borough officials put caution tape around the gymnasium part of the Dunmore Community Center Tuesday afternoon and made the call that no one is allowed to use the gym until further notice.

They are waiting on word from engineers who think just the gym part of the community center wasn't built properly in 2006. But no one knew anything was wrong until a few days ago when the borough manager noticed a crack in the cinder blocks.

The Dunmore Community Center's most famous visitor was presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008. Every day it plays host to hundreds of young athletes, along with a senior center, head start, and a state representative's office.

But now, Dunmore borough officials say a major oversight may have been made when it was built back in 2006. It was only noticed a few days ago when borough manager Vito Ruggerio brought his sons there for basketball practice.

“I noticed something on the existing structure that just didn't appear to be correct. The type of person that I am, I had to follow up on it. I had borough engineers come down and do a comprehensive study on it,” Ruggerio said.

What Ruggerio noticed were cracks  - three of them - on the back wall of the community center's gymnasium.

Engineers believe that the wall is at risk of falling so the whole gym is not structurally sound and off limits for the time being.

The dark line on the back wall is what tipped the borough manager off. that's where the cinder block has separated by about an inch. When engineers were first called in, they said they think there's nothing securing the wall to the roof of the building.

Borough officials fear that this is a problem that started when the community center was built in 2006, and the gym has been at risk ever since. Officials are waiting on the results of an engineering study but they say it's still not safe for kids to play there.

“If it's not good enough for my child, it's not good enough for any child in the borough of Dunmore,” Ruggerio said.

The gymnasium is also used by students at head start and members of the Dunmore senior center.  Both are housed in the part of the building engineers say is safe.

“We just made the seniors aware that they are not supposed to use the gym. We only use it mainly for ballroom dance class, so Mondays is the only time we really use it. We do have some seniors that walk for exercise but none of them were here today,” said senior center worker Jeanne Hugenbruch.

The borough manager says they expect to hear from engineers on Wednesday and then they'll know more about what is wrong with the building, how to fix it, and who may be responsible. He says the borough plans to front the money for repairs now and possibly take legal action down the road.

For now, Dunmore School District officials have agreed to move basketball games and practices to the school gyms.