Frayser community center shut down over mold concerns

Frayser community center shut down over mold concerns
Updated: Aug. 30, 2018 at 9:30 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A popular community center in Frayser shut down Thursday night.

The Ed Rice Community Center is closed until further notice while the City of Memphis investigates reports of possible mold and water leaks.

Less than two weeks after WMC Action News 5 aired a story detailing major health concerns at the center, the city has hired an environmental expert to guide them through the process.  Samples were taken inside the building, and Ed Rice sits locked up tight, until the lab results are back.

"I really hate to hear that," said Frayser resident Jaida Griffin.

She and Jordan Howse pass by the center on their nightly walk.  They're all about good health and word of a possible mold outbreak is something they take seriously.

"I'm suffering from sinus issues right now," said Griffin.  "Mold is one of the biggest things that I can't deal with, so it's a concern of mine."

"I know a lot of kids go here," said Howse, "and it's like, if this place closes down, where are the kids going to go?"

The City of Memphis temporarily closed the center on Thursday, August 30.  Bright yellow signs posted on the front doors explain testing is underway on lab samples collected inside various areas in the building.

The action comes after Linda Phillips, administrator of the Shelby County Election Commission, raised a red flag earlier this month. She said the commission no longer wanted to use the Ed Rice Community Center as a polling place because so many workers had respiratory issues there.

"We had another poll worker quit," she told WMC Action News 5, "because their allergies wouldn't allow them to tolerate the building.  Ed Rice has been a problem in the past.  We thought they were going to solve it. It's an old building and it's got water damage and mold. It's a problem."

April Hibbler pulled up to the center to attend a PTSA meeting schedule there, and was shocked to learn the building was locked and the meeting was moved to a different location.

"Well, I hope they fix it," said Hibbler, "especially given the fact that children play here, and they have community events here."

Frayser kids will have to play elsewhere for the time being.  The City of Memphis is taking no chances with any potential health hazards.

"I would say it's a good decision," said Griffin. "It's the best thing for us all and for the community.  So, get it together and we'll get it back up and running."

The environmental expert will recommend steps to eradicate any problems if the lab tests come back positive for mold or other allergens.

The Ed Rice Center is located at 2907 North Watkins.  There are two other community centers, North Frayser and Kate Sexton, located less than four miles away.

A city spokesperson says Memphis' current capital improvements budget earmarks $960,000 to design a replacement for Ed Rice, which was built in the mid 1960's.

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