CEDAR RAPIDS — After nearly five months and $1.5 million, the Kennedy High School gymnasium is back in business.
Kennedy is scheduled to host its first event in its repaired gym Monday, a JV girls’ basketball game and a sophomore boys’ contest against Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
“It will be nice to be home again,” Kennedy athletics director Aaron Stecker said. “I’m excited, a little nervous.”
Like most of the city, Kennedy — located at 4545 Wenig Rd. NE — and its surrounding neighborhood was devastated by the Aug. 10 derecho.
Total damage to the building and grounds was estimated at $11.6 million.
The Kennedy gymnasium has four roof drains above it, and the one on northwest corner collapsed during the storm, leaving a 2 foot-by-2 foot hole in the roof.
Rain got onto, and under, the gym floor, ruining it.
Kennedy was planning improvements to the gym anyway, replacing the old wood bleachers on the west side with green plastic seating to match the east side. The storm expedited that upgrade.
Renovation began by stripping the floor, and continued with a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning that included a fresh coat of paint on the walls.
“We started (cleaning) in the rafters, and worked all the way to the floor,” Stecker said.
“Everything is fresh, shiny and new.”
The new floor consists of five layers.
On the bottom is concrete, with a super dense foam underlayment on top of that.
Next is two layers of “sleepers,” which criss-cross, and on top is the visible maple floor.
“It looks a lot different now,” Stecker said. “Those old silver metal transitions between the three (basketball courts) are gone. Now it’s one solid floor from wall to wall.
“There is more grain in the maple, and the boards are narrower.”
Stecker said the new floor “is softer and quieter” than the old one, and is projected to last 75 years.
During reparations, Kennedy’s teams practiced in the west gym (which suffered relatively minor damage, and will be fixed this summer), as well as Harding and Franklin middle schools.
The first varsity event in the renovated facility is Thursday, a wrestling dual with Jefferson. The girls’ basketball team hosts Dubuque Senior on Friday and North Scott on Saturday.
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