The story of the Scotia Gym is told here, according to the information available at the time of writing. More information was found about recent years than those of the past. As with most stories, understanding the sequence of events adds meaning to the whole thing. This tale has had its ups and downs, but it appears to be headed toward a happy ending. The most recent events are found in the section called "UPDATES."
The Scotia Gym (previously known as the Scotia Recreation Center) has for many years held a central place in the lives and hearts of people from Scotia, Rio Dell and the surrounding towns. It was a busy hub of activity until the doors were closed in February 2012.
Everyone who has had the privilege of using the facility in the past wants to see it made functional and reopen as soon as possible. How this can be accomplished is the big question. What is being done toward this end? What are the various options and how likely are they to succeed? Talk to five people and you get as many ideas. This site will attempt to present some of the past and current issues.
Please note that information presented as historical pertains to people and administrations of those times, and not to those working today.
Built and operated by the Pacific Lumber Company (Palco) it opened in 1959. The original building plans contained the gym and pool, locker rooms, a stage and a large kitchen that ran the full width of the gym on its north end. In the 1960's, racquetball courts and an upstairs weight room were added in the area originally designated as a kitchen. The stage area became a separate activity room. The pool used chlorine gas to sanitize the water. This was later replaced with a system using liquid chlorine and, eventually, chlorine tablets which are much easier to work with and less dangerous.
The facility had a staff of up to 14 part-time employees and was open six days a week. Memberships were available to Palco employee families for $10 a month. Non-employees were able to use the pool by paying a drop-in fee. Students from the Scotia school were able to use the gym and pool as part of the PE program.
The Scotia school has always been an independent school district. That district owns it's facilities. However, the school was built on land owned by Palco. As part of the bankruptcy proceedings that began in 2008, the land upon which the school sits and that upon which the gym sits were offered for sale to the school district. The purchase was completed and the Scotia Recreation Center was included, along with the land.
At that point, the school owned it's own gym. However, there was one rather large surprise. When Palco owned the gym the school students could, by agreement, use the facility. As soon as it became the property of the school district a whole new set of regulations came into effect. The state has strict rules pertaining to buildings owned and operated by schools. The state architects inspected the building and issued a directive that mandated approximately $2.5 million worth of upgrades to the building (to bring it up to current earthquake and ADA standards) before it could be used by the school students.
WE CAN'T USE IT ??
So the school now had the gym and pool facility but couldn't use it for any school activities. Students, parents and teachers were confused. The situation was awkward. To somewhat satisfy the local community, they allowed non-profit groups to sponsor programs in the facility. These groups had to provide their own liability insurance. Thus, school students (as well as community members) had access by being part of AAU basketball (Amateur Athletic Union), the Scotia Swim Team, the Masters Swimmers (adults) or the Futsal indoor soccer program.
THE NON-PROFIT GROUPS
At times, the school did have a fairly good working relationship with the "outside" non-profit groups. The Scotia Swim Team had been using the pool for nineteen years under Palco ownership and continued when the school took over. The other groups noted above, as well as one of the local churches, all provided programs for children and adults. They also provided insurance for those programs. The people involved with these groups contributed significant money and volunteer time to the facility. This included housekeeping, gym floor care, pool care, general maintenance and lawn mowing.
THE GYM COMMITTEE
Since the non-profit groups were the main functioning entities at the facility, they requested to have some input into policy making and scheduling of events. The school granted the formation of a new group called the Gym Committee. It consisted of the principal and three members of the teaching staff and one representative from each of the non-profit groups. This committee met monthly for several months. However, it was abruptly cancelled and disbanded by the school administration in May 2011 when disagreements arose. It seemed they felt the non-profit committee members were overstepping their authority.
FACILITY MAINTENANCE REVERTS TOTALLY TO SCHOOL PERSONNEL
Shortly after the dissolution of the Gym Committee, the volunteers, who spent many hours a week cleaning and maintaining the facility, were informed in writing that their services were no longer needed and that all duties would be performed by school staff. From this point on the general condition of the locker rooms, showers, pool and pool deck deteriorated. Water damage developed along edges of the roof and also involved the adjacent portable building.
THE FINAL BLOW
For approximately five years the school administration had known there would come a day when the local steam power plant would turn off the steam supply to the gym and to the school. No functional plan to deal with this problem was in effect. With about one month of final warning, the school acquired some emergency funds and installed natural gas powered tank-less hot water heaters in the school building and used the hot water to provide heat to their air handlers. But there was no plan for the gym or pool. On February 13, 2012 the steam was turned off and the gym building was closed, due to lack of heat.
WITH THE SCHOOL AS A BUSINESS MANAGER THE GYM WAS DOOMED
The prior school administration (2004-2013) seemed incapable of maintaining the facility from the very beginning. The whole endeavor was based on wishful thinking. The money and man-hours required simply were not available. What made it appear possible was the fact that there were virtually no overhead costs. There was no rent. The electricity, water and sewer came off the old mill town grid at no charge. The only costs were for custodial services (school and volunteer staff was used), some cleaning supplies and paper goods and chlorine for the pool, and most of this was provided by the nonprofit user groups. The money budgeted for maintenance and repairs of the school was not enough to also cover the needs of the gym.
Occasionally a major crisis arose, usually one that would shut down the pool. When that happened, all interested parties would frantically dig into any funds they could find to buy whatever was needed. Volunteers and school staff would rally to get things fixed and running again. This is how things limped along until the final closure.
(continued in "AND MORE")
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