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St. Helens students slated to help with flooring repairs; city approves contract for new roofing

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - The city owns this building on Old Portland and Kaster roads, which formerly housed the FARA gym facility. The city is working to update the facility and repair it so it can be used for the citys recreation program.A city-owned building in St. Helens is slated for renovation thanks to work to be performed by contractors and students in the St. Helens School District.

St. Helens staff are looking at a variety of renovations and repairs to the former FARA building on Old Portland and Kaster roads, which the city owns and plans to use.

The building previously belonged to the Boise Inc. paper mill. When the city purchased the Boise property in 2014, the FARA building, which originally opened as the Fitness and Recreation Association for employees of the company, came with the purchase. Between 2008 and this year, membership at FARA was open to the public.

When the city proposed a possible lease option after it was realized operators of FARA weren't paying to lease the space, conversations shifted in June to having the city take over the space to use for its newly launched recreation program and have the gym closed. The recreation program has been developed as a partnership between the city and the St. Helens School District to provide activities in the community.

Over the past few months, St. Helens Finance Director Matt Brown has brought forth recommendations and quotes to the City Council to get an idea of how much it would cost to make the facility a usable city resource.

On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the council approved a contract with Wheless Construction for $18,572 to repair a portion of roofing on the building. During a work session the same day, Brown noted the city had also talked about changing out the carpeting. The city's public works crew tore out the old carpeting, which helped

cut back on some labor costs from an outside flooring vendor.

Additionally, Brown said he recently got word from the St. Helens School District that students in the high school's building and remodeling classes were willing to help with the flooring installation, which could mean only needing to pay for materials.

An exterior paint job is also expected.

While the city has yet to identify exactly what it will do in the building through its recreation program, at this point the focus is on bringing it up to code and making it a safe space.

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