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Center should stay closed

News that the Ashland Community Center will remain closed indefinitely because the Parks and Recreation Commission doesn’t have the money to repair it is unfortunate. But despite some claims to the contrary, it is not a problem that can be temporarily fixed at a low cost and still protect public safety.

Structural problems with the nearly 100-year-old building came to light after a woman was injured by a light that fell on her during a dance class as crews were installing new lights and sound baffles in the main hall. During repairs, a city worker noticed a bulge in the north wall.

A structural engineering firm examined the structure and reported that the ceiling needs to be completely removed and sagging trusses replaced with new wood. City project manager Kaylea Kathol of Public Works said, “There is no temporary, quick fix to get the public back in there in the near term.”

Public safety has to take priority over the need for the space, and city officials are right to keep the building closed. Meanwhile, the city is wrestling with a $2 million budget shortfall, and it’s likely the Parks and Recreation Department will see its budget remain flat rather than increasing.

The closure also cuts into rental income, further affecting the department’s budget.

Ashland residents are calling on officials to stop running a deficit and live within the city’s means. If they are serious about that, going into debt to rebuild the Community Center is not a prudent move.

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