Sports

May 17, 2012

Renovations bring new feel to sports complex

Story and photo by Natalie Lakosil
Staff Writer

Leslie Woods, chief, sports, fitness and aquatics division explains a new piece of equipment recently installed in Barnes Field House. The flying pull-up bar acts as reverse monkey bars, and users climb up and down them instead of across.

The facilities at Eifler Fitness Center and Barnes Field House have been undergoing a long-needed revamp over the past three years.

“The construction that has gone on at these two facilities has been phenomenal, and it is great for me to see at the end of my career that this building [Barnes Field House] in particular is being upgraded,” said Chief of Sports, Fitness and Aquatics Division, Leslie Woods.

“It took a lot of abuse and was being neglected, and that impacted the Soldiers, our primary users, and their family members. That affects us because we want to provide [the best] service as we can,” Woods added.

Leaks in the ceiling started about 15 years ago when skylights were installed on the roof to save energy, Woods said. “Like a lot of buildings on Fort Huachuca, we are not the only roof that leaks. The only difference is we have anywhere from 300 to 800 people come through a day whereas an office complex has about 12 people,” Woods added.

“For whatever reason they never got around to fixing them, just patching them, and that never really solved the problem. So they decided to fix the roof and put in new [heating and] cooling, state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line systems — the energy conservation is just phenomenal,” Woods said.

“The big units you see on top of the perimeter of the buildings, they say use about as much energy as a small house kitchen, it is incredible,” he added. “We are anxious to see how they work,” Woods said.

Installing the new roof and heating and cooling systems has been a labor-intensive project. Workers have been challenged with high winds and cold weather so there have been delays, but work is still ahead of schedule, Woods explained. The roofing project began in April 2011 and is expected to be complete in about two months.

“It all started with a leaky roof,” said Director of Public Works, John Ruble, about the renovations. He explained that the new roof on Barnes required removal of all air intakes and swamp cooling, so workers installed new LED lighting and gas-driven heat pumps. “The heat pumps are really efficient and gas is abundant right now, so it saves us money and energy,” Ruble added.

Pool gets complete overhaul

Another big project at Barnes Field House that will be completed in the next few weeks is the pool renovation. “God bless the engineers who figure out how to install everything, because [the pool] is not designed for the equipment of today,” Woods said.

It is being revamped with new plumbing, a new filtration system and new lights, but in order to accommodate that, the engineers are working in a mechanical room that is 50 years old. It not only houses the filtration system but also the heating for the building, which is what it was originally designed for, Woods said.

The pool project, which started in May 2011, was completed a few weeks ago without the newly arrived filter that will take a few weeks to install.

“They used this construction project as an initiative to remove the gas chlorine that was chlorinating the pool … They converted over to granular chlorine, so it’s safer for the customers and people who work on it,” Woods said.

“It is a major project. They did all the things they needed to do to upgrade it to a state-of-the-art facility,” Woods said, explaining that the pool has never been renovated.

“Soldiers aren’t too adamant about what they need in a pool. We are a little more concerned about the quality of the water than they are, so now that the plumbing was shot, we were able to throw the whole project together, and the water quality is just going to be phenomenal” he added.

Weight room undergoes expansion

In the Eifler Fitness Center gymnasium, staff knocked out the racquetball courts and turned the area into a longer weight room. The area was too crowded, and after conducting customer research and further discussing it, the courts were removed. The project was completed three weeks ago and only took staff three days to complete. The project was all done in-house and did not require funding, Woods said. Racquetball courts are still open at Barnes Field House.

“Functional fitness is the big deal with Soldiers now, and we just completed the construction of a new frame for functional fitness users that will … appreciate it,” Woods said. The multiuse frame Woods referred to allows Soldiers and other patrons to do flying pull-ups and weight lifting while standing, along with other exercises.

Restrooms get facelift

The final and one of the biggest projects recently completed at Barnes was the renovation and redesign of the men and women’s restrooms.

The facilities were 50 years old, Woods explained. The facilities are now American Disabilities Act-compliant for patrons with wheelchairs. The showers, toilets and sinks are all in compliance and are all water and energy conservation conscious. Everything works, and it just looks cleaner, he added.

The facility’s biggest issue was space. Walls were removed to open up the area and to make it easier to maneuver inside. “The saunas were as old as the building and hadn’t been renewed, so we installed new saunas,” Woods added.

More showers and a baby changing area were added in both rooms. The project, which began in October 2010, was completed about six months ago.

“It took time to redo everything,” Woods said. He explained that old buildings contain lead-based paint and asbestos, and removal is a major undertaking.

“Everything has to be isolated. Equipment has to be brought in and it’s a big deal. … As long as [lead-based paint and asbestos] are contained it is not an issue, but as soon as construction projects start and that stuff gets tapped into, you have to follow the steps to remove it. That is one of the reasons [the renovation] took so long.

“Another reason is that in all of these projects we are retrofitting a 50-year-old building to new stuff,” he said.

All of the major renovation projects began about three years ago when the ball fields were done, Woods said. The grass or dirt fields were landscaped with artificial turf. The second level of the hammer-strength room was also completed at about that time.

Upcoming projects include building a new block wall around Irwin Pool for additional security.

“The pool currently has a wire fabric fence around it that is falling apart, so it is time for a new fence,” Ruble said. The project should be complete in about a month, he added.

According to Woods, the feasibility of installing solar panels to heat the water at Irwin Pool is being examined. This could possibly extended the swim season if it can be staffed, he said.

‘The solar panels are having a funding issue right now, so it is up in the air on the solar panels,” Ruble said. “Barnes Field House is a Category A facility so that’s appropriations funded. Irwin pool is a Category B so that means it’s [going to require] some non-appropriated funds along with appropriated funds,” Ruble said.

“Sometimes we will have someone that comes from a major command where everything is really state-of-the-art, brand new stuff. They come here and they may not be happy with what they see but they don’t know what it was like a year ago. We chuckle when we hear those kinds of opinions about our facilities and know that really it is as good as it has ever been, so from my perspective and my heart I know that I am really happy with what we are able to provide our customers now,” Woods said.

“We don’t hear anything back from customers. We hear the people that have an opinion on how to change things, but when things are changed we never hear anything back on if they like it or not,” Woods said.

Customers can report issues or comment on the renovations on the Interactive Customer Evaluations kiosks located inside the facilities, he explained.




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