The Benning Stoddert Recreation Center in South Washington D.C. is open to the public after being under construction for renovations for more than a year; but former mayor Vincent Gray, who approved the project’s $6.7 million budget while he was in office isn’t happy with what he’s seen of the building site.
During a walk-through of the building with Fox 5 news, Gray berated Mziwandile Masimini, deputy director for the department of parks and recreation under current mayor Muriel Bowser. “Why wasn't that figured out before it got to this point?” Gray asked.
Among Gray’s concerns about the safety and functionality of the revamped building are gaps and uneven ground on the gym floors, cracks in the cement in the center lobby, and a stove left out in the open where anyone could access it.
Perhaps the most troubling of Gray’s concerns is a natural gas meter and pipe which were left uncovered and which are positioned near the children’s play area of the center. The pipe is not only a potential hazard, but also blocks access to a bathroom which was supposed to meet ADA standards.
Regarding the gas meter and pipe, Masimini said, “This wasn’t initially brought up in our engineering phase. I think it is something that can be taken care of fairly easily.”
However, Gray and other Ward 7 advisory neighborhood commissioners has some serious reservations about the ease of remedying the situation. “What is the solution if it is that easy?” Gray asked.
Next Tuesday Masimini and Gray, both members of the city council, plan to attend a meeting at the recreation center to address potential problems. The Department of Parks and Recreation also hopes to see a representative from the Department of General Services involved in overseeing the design and construction phases of the renovation.