Tuesday morning, the county commissioners heard Ron Foster list the problems that will cost between $159,000 and $184,000 to fix. The difference depends on how much work county maintenance crews can do.
Following Foster’s report, Judge Rene Mascorro suggested lifting the ban on alcohol at the Expo Center to boost usage and give the community a place for events until the community center is repaired.
Currently, taxpayers are paying more than $18,000 a year for heating and cooling the Expo Center that the judge said is empty more than 85 percent of the time.
“That’s a tough pill for taxpayers to swallow,” Mascorro said.
Lifting the ban on alcohol didn’t bode well with at least one commissioner.
“The Expo Center was built as a family facility,” Commissioner Gary Bourland said. “I prefer the Expo Center not to smell like stale beer. The more alcohol is served, the more problems we’re going to have with the plumbing...all we need is to have some drunk walking through there with a can of beer.”
Mascorro told the court that the bad condition of the community center and the ban of alcohol at the Expo Center results in some residents to go elsewhere or out-of-town for weddings and parties.
“If people want to have a wedding and want to serve alcohol, use Padilla Hall,” Bourland said.
“One of the facilities will suffer,” said Commissioner Ann Lopez.
Last year, the Expo Center was rented eight times by paying customers and 65 times by non-profit groups which do not have to pay the $250 rental fee. The community center was rented 105 times, with 28 paying the rental fee.
“$250 is way cheap,” said Commissioner Stanley Tuttle.
The commissioners postponed making a decision on lifting the alcohol ban until more information is received.
Foster reported that the building entrance and restrooms are not ADA compliant, the ceilings are sagging, extensive floor damage has occurred including buckling tile, and moisture has compromised paint on the inside and stained the outside.
Weep holes to drain the moisture from the structure are not properly constructed, the appliances are outdated and broken, and a number of electric code violations were found.
He also found insect infestation and said there is a probability that mold is growing inside the walls, and many of the light fixtures have been discontinued and will no longer be available in the future.
After the extensive, multi-paged report of his findings, Foster suggested the county hire another consultant for $2,500 to $5,000 to ascertain if his theory is correct concerning the reason for the moisture inside the walls.
“Do you have any good news?” asked Judge Rene Mascorro after Foster’s report.
Foster said that many of the problems could be fixed by the county’s maintenance personnel, which accounts for the wide range of the cost of repairs.