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SPARC reopens to the public with a brand new floor

The South Peninsula Athletic and Recreation Center opens with a brand new "MONDO Advanced" floor and 10,600-square-foot concrete slab
Simon Lopez
The South Peninsula Athletic and Recreation Center opens with a brand new "MONDO Advanced" floor and 10,600-square-foot concrete slab

In 2017, SPARC opened to fill gaps in Homer’s sports and recreational offerings. Daniel Zatz of the Homer Youth Soccer Association and others in the community found it difficult to find places suitable for fair-weather sports, especially in the cold winter months.

SPARC Board Member Lawrence Radcliffe credits Zatz as the center’s founder.

“This guy, with a tremendous amount of energy and cash, worked himself to a frazzle getting this thing built,” he said.

Radcliffe said thousands of volunteer hours went into the initial construction.

He also says Zatz and the board realized that a concrete slab would cost even more than the structure itself.

"One thing they couldn't afford was a concrete floor and a more traditional type of plain surface like hardwood," he said.

Ginny Espenshade, Vice Chair on the SPARC board, says the search for a budget-friendly floor consisted of calling around to Alaska businesses to see what kinds of flooring would work best in the conditions. At that time, the O'Malley Center in Anchorage had upgraded their floors to wood, leaving their old tile-based flooring sitting in storage, ready to be claimed.

“It was like a garage sale. But it was never intended to be long-term, just to get SPARC open," she said.

Additional tiles were donated by the Subway franchise in Homer.

SPARC used a sand pad under Visqueen, a type of thin plastic sheeting, and then placed the tiles on top.

But, after a few years of heavy use, the plastic flooring began to develop an uneven surface, posing difficulties for playing and walking across it.

Replacing the aging floor was estimated to cost nearly half a million dollars ($480,000). SPARC found a grant program that would match half the required funds.

Espenshade said that they raised 46% of the funds needed (approximately $221,000) through a myriad of community donations. This included the Homer Foundation, local businesses, non-profits, and individuals.

However, progress on the new floor stalled a few times.

Board President Malcolm Gaylord said that several contributing factors delayed the installation, including the pouring of a 5-inch concrete pad totaling over 10 thousand (10,600) square feet.

“We didn't understand exactly how uneven the floor was when it was poured out and how flat it needed to be so part of our mistake was not making sure that happened and understanding that was going to cost a lot of money,” Gaylord said. “There were some manufacturing problems with some of the flooring, and there were some equipment problems. And it just kept adding up.”

Radcliffe also said the moisture content of the concrete took about two months longer than anticipated to dry out.

Homer-based contractors did the dirt work and the slab installation ahead of the final floor installation.

Alaskan Industries Inc. helped SPARC select and install the flooring.

Gaylord says they went with rubber flooring called “Mondo Advanced," which was installed over padding and the concrete slab.

SPARC officially reopened on Monday and is back to offering a gauntlet of programs, classes, and activities for all ages.

You can find the calendar of events here.

Simon Lopez is a long time listener of KBBI Homer. He values Kachemak Bay’s beauty and its overall health. Simon is community oriented and enjoys being involved in building and maintaining an informed and proactive community.
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