Playing a waiting game: KCHS teams hoping gym recovers from water damage

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2011

For the past two weeks Kenai Central High School students have been swimming or playing broomball at the Kenai ice rink for their gym classes after a broken pipe caused water damage to the school's gym floor and temporarily closed the facility.

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Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Dehumidifying units work on the gym floor Thursday at Kenai Central High School to dry wood damaged by a broken water pipe.

School and district administration are still waiting for the floor to dry out completely before the extent of damage to the wooden floor can be determined.

In the meantime, Kardinal basketball practices and home games have been relocated to Kenai Middle School and the Kenai Recreation Center.

"You have to get creative and that's what we've done," said Stacia Rustad, the high school's athletic director and girls basketball coach. "It's certainly not what we would like to be doing. Things like this happen in life and you have to adapt."

That adaptation means bowling at the bowling alley and wallyball at the Kenai Recreation Center for some Kenai Central gym students.

Dave Spence, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's director of planning and operations, said the damage was caused over Christmas break when a failure in the heating system caused the fire suppression system pipes to freeze and then burst when things warmed up.

Kenai Central High School Principal Alan Fields said the leak was in the commons area of the school but spread into the gym.

"Half the gym floor got water damage," he said.

There was also damage to the school's snack shack area and the materials and supplies that were in there as well as to carpet in the commons area, Fields said.

Once the leak was discovered the borough called in a gym floor specialist to examine the damage, he said. Fans and dehumidifying systems are being used to try and dry the wood out.

There's "equipment in place right now to extract the water from the floor," Spence said.

A contractor also put holes in the floor to blow air through it for drying purposes, he said. The holes will be able to be patched when the floor is done drying.

Borough maintenance is also monitoring the moisture content of the wood daily.

"Once it's dried they will figure out how much warping is in the wood," Fields said. "It could settle down or it might need to be replaced."

But, Spence said, it might take until the end of the month to determine if the floor needs to be replaced.

It could take "another two weeks before we see if the moisture content is reduced enough to allow the floor to go back to its original position," he said.

So for now Kenai Central students are doing different activities for physical education, basketball teams are homeless and administration is in a waiting game.

"We're just waiting. Hopefully any day now we'll know to the extent what the damage was and what, if anything, we can do this season speaking athletically to get our basketball team back on their home floor," Rustad said.

According to an old Kenai Peninsula Borough memo, Kenai Central High School gym's original 10,400-square-foot maple wood floor was completely replaced in 2004.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at

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