Emmett Scott gym finally getting air conditioning

adouglas@heraldonline.comMay 4, 2013 

This summer Rock Hill kids will flock to the Emmett Scott Recreation Center gym just like children have for years – only this time, there will be air conditioning.

For years the Crawford Road center has been the only city-owned gym without adequate cooling.

Last August, about 25 Emmett Scott supporters – many of whom have children who use the center after school – called on the Rock Hill City Council to put air conditioning in the 50-year-old gym.

The council didn’t take a vote. City staff members used money from the parks, recreation and tourism department budget to pay for the improvements.

Several months and about $60,000 later, the air conditioning units are in and ready to pump cool air through the gym, which mainly hosts children in afterschool programs and summer camps.

BASF of Charlotte will finish installation work in the gym’s structure over the next few months.

John Taylor, operations supervisor of Rock Hill’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, said he is proud of everyone who helped get air conditioning for Emmett Scott.

Local pastor C.T. Kirk – one of the center’s key supporters – said he’s about a “23” on a scale of one to 10.

The city of Rock Hill, Kirk said, sent a “message of unity” by listening to its residents and installing the air conditioning.

Other pastors, local doctors, lawyers and many other people helped convince city leaders to invest in a new cooling system for the gym, he said.

“It shows that people can come out and rally around one cause,” Kirk said.

Supporters of putting air conditioning in Emmett Scott’s gym often said over the past year that investing money in the center was a matter of fairness.

Though the gym was the only facility without air for years , it is also Rock Hill’s oldest recreation center.

The center was once part of Emmett Scott High School, an all-black school that was open from 1952 until the 1970s. When the high school closed because of state-mandated racial integration, the city used the school’s gym as a recreation center.

The Emmett Scott project is one of the many improvements the city has made at its recreational centers and athletic facilities recently.

Rock Hill has used $150,000 from hospitality taxes to upgrade fields at Hargett Park.

Other improvements include re-surfacing tennis courts at Fewell and Confederate Parks and installing new pool pumps at the Boyd Hill and Oakwood recreational centers.

At a June meeting, city council members will decided whether to spend $300,000 from hospitality taxes on new turf, additional lighting and fencing at a multi-purpose field at Cherry Park.

The project is estimated to cost about $1 million. The Discoveries Soccer Club plans to put $300,000 toward improvements and the city of Rock Hill could ask York County to contribute $400,000 from its hospitality tax account.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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