ELWOOD — Elwood’s Birch Bayh Community Center is open again, despite high water.
Following $50,000 and months of work to fix its collapsing floor and add drainage to prevent mold and mildew, the center, 715 N. 19th St., was originally slated to be rededicated in April.
They finished the building on a Thursday, Mayor Ron Arnold said.
Friday brought rain; a torrential downpour that dumped 6 inches of rain on Elwood in less than 36 hours. The building suffered sub-floor damage, and the city had to take a literal rain check on the grand re-opening.
“It was a huge setback,” Arnold said. “It’s a highly-utilized building. In a community that doesn’t have a lot of options for party space, or meetings, it was tough having it closed.”
After weeks of post-flood repairs, the center re-opened Thursday, with a community open house.
The hall’s been outfitted with new furniture, paint, polished red-and-white tile floors, handicapped-accessible bathrooms and improved access to the Red Gold patio and nearby Mary Beth Dunnichay Aquatic Center. Outside, there’s new guttering and signage.
“We got kind of lucky,” said city spokesman Jeff Howe. He said the flood did not damage the center above floor level, and Elwood planners found a way to clear the water and repair the damage mostly on insurance money.
Since they didn’t have to start back at square one, street commissioner Jim Roberston said, it saved the city from spending another $50,000 — or possibly more.
Ahead of Thursday’s opening, Elwood building and planning director Tom Doan gave the place a final spit-shine, leading a team of neon-shirt clad volunteers that included 11-year-old Hannah Roberts.
“She’s earning cellphone minutes,” said dad, Nic Roberts, who works for the city’s parks department.
Robertson said the future holds more improvements, but the present looks pretty bright. This week, the building tested negative for mold.
“Tom (Doan) and his crew have done an outstanding job with the place,” he said. “It’s really exciting to go through this process, and make this a great facility for the residents of Elwood.”
Reporter Nancy Elliott contributed to this report. Like Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and follow her @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.