Act now

Published 12:50 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Even a cursory walk around the Washington Civic Center reveals that facility’s decking and related amenities are in dire need of repair.

The decking is showing its age — structurally and aesthetically. Parts of the decking are more than 30 years old. Over the years, building codes have changed. The decking no longer meets some of the new building-code requirements and requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. It’s time to replace that decking.

As much as the Civic Center is used — wedding receptions, reunions, community gatherings and public hearings by local, state and federal agencies — it would behoove the city to replace the decking as soon as possible. The Washington Tourism Development Authority aggressively markets the Civic Center, which it manages, as a place for business-related and other activities in an effort to decrease or eliminate the deficit it encounters each fiscal year in operating the Civic Center.

Deteriorating, unsightly and unsafe decking makes marketing the Civic Center much harder. Those who pay to use the Civic Center should expect the facility to be well-maintained.

Mayor Archie Jennings said one approach to replacing the decking is to do it in phases, meeting immediate needs first. If the city’s fiscal status dictates that approach, so be it. It would be preferable to do the entire replacement project at one time. Get it over with. Doing the work in phases could be inconvenient.

Councilman Doug Mercer has long said the city does a poor job of maintaining its facilities. He’s got a point. Replacing the Civic Center decking provides an opportunity for the city to make a statement on where it stands when it comes to maintaining its facilities.

Replace the decking as soon as possible. Waiting just worsens the problem.