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Fate of Carrie Matthews rec center still in question

“No one loves this place more than I do, but it’s time for it to go,”
Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 8:02 PM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - The City of Decatur must decide whether to restore the Carrie Matthews Recreation Center or build a new location.

”This is where we played every day, all day every day. Right here. You see the sidewalk right here? before 9 p.m., this would be full of people to sign up to go in here,” said Rodney Gordon, reflecting on his time at the rec center.

Gordon was born and raised in Decatur’s District 1. He says he has countless good memories at the Carrie Matthews Rec Center.

“No one loves this place more than I do, but it’s time for it to go,” said Gordon.

After testing was done on the site’s soil to see if the 52-year-old building is feasible, the results are in. City Engineer Carl Prewitt says about seven feet down, the soil tends to hold a lot of water, they could not find a preferred pathway for storm damage along with other issues. Prewitt discussed the issues with a structural engineer.

“He came up with a solution, but wouldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t have similar issues somewhere down somewhere in the future,” said Prewitt.

Prewitt estimates that restoring the old building would cost around $2.5 million, and maybe more if there are other issues discovered. The estimated cost for a new Carrie Matthews building would be around $4 million.

“If you do the same thing, you build a building, state of the art, alright. It’s gonna attract these kids and they’re gonna love it just like I do,” said Gordon.

Gordan says bottom-line, the current Carrie Matthews building is dilapidated, and it’s time to move forward.

“We used to be riding horses and buggies, now we’ve got Cadillac’s. I mean so, things go forward, life has to go forward, we have to move with the times and this is one of those things. I hate to see it go but, it has to go. Bye Carrie Matthews,” said Gordon.

The City Council is expected to discuss the City Engineer’s findings at next Monday’s work session.

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