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MLK Center to Reopen in Phases

City gives eight-week timetable on restoration of hurricane-damaged building.

The Martin Luther King Community Center in Long Beach.  (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
The Martin Luther King Community Center in Long Beach. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)

Reconstruction of the Martin Luther King Community Center continues, as the city plans to reopen the facility incrementally in coming weeks and months.

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During Hurricane Sandy the city-owned facility, at 615 Riverside Blvd., sustained two feet of flooding that destroyed its heating system, bathrooms and kitchen, and substantially damaged other areas of the building. While Long Beach Martin Luther King Center Inc. is a nonprofit that runs various programs at the building, including recreational and tutoring programs, the city operates the childcare program at the facility.

After the storm, though, the MLK building served only as a distribution center for donated clothes, food, hot meals, and cleaning and hygiene supplies, as well as trailers where residents could take hot showers. After pleas from residents to keep the center open for this purpose into January, the city obliged their request but that decision delayed reconstruction of the storm-damaged building.  

On Tuesday, the city took another step toward refurbishing the building when the City Council voted unanimously to contract with the Flushing-based Heat Inc. to install new gas boilers for the heating system at $55,000. Jim LaCarrubba, the commissioner of public works, said that the city’s plan is to reopen the building in phases, starting with the front of the building. Among the other items to be replaced is the gymnasium floor.

“We’re working on the specifications now and should have that done within the next week to 10 days,” said LaCarrubba, who noted that the new floor would be rebuilt two feet higher.

The repair of the facility’s roof is part a universal bid that involves other city buildings whose roofs were also damaged during the storm. “We’re looking to take care of them comprehensively rather than one at a time,” LaCarrubba said.

City officials said that the total cost to restore the center is $200,000, and that patrons can return to the building within eight weeks, according to Newsday

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lbpatriot February 23, 2013 at 09:31 AM
The gym floor isn't being raised 2 feet, the boilers are.

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