Feature Article - July/August 2006
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Special Supplement: Complete Guide to Sports Surfaces and Flooring

Something's Afoot

By Kara Spak

Multipurpose, on purpose

The Centre of Elgin's multipurpose gym has the markings of a basketball court. It has the hoops. But it also has a dramatically different floor than the gymnasium. This room is covered with synthetic flooring.

This gymnasium is for younger kids learning basic basketball skills. The synthetic floor is also durable to hold up as preschoolers drive their miniature cars around the gymnasium or as adults drag in playground equipment for them to use during Elgin's cold winter months. The room also is used for birthday parties with more than 100 people in attendance.

"Because of the multiuse nature of this room, we chose a product other than wood," Carlstedt says. "The primary use here is not basketball."

Synthetic floors also cover a motor-skills room for the pre-school, where kids spend part of the day maneuvering on tiny square carts on wheels. It is also the surface of choice for the free-weight room that sports a 1.5-inch surface that absorbs dropped weights.

Finally, The Centre chose yet another synthetic surface for its 1/8-mile track, which is open to all Elgin residents free of charge and is one of the facility's most popular features.

The surface found on this three-lane track is 1/4-inch thick. A thinner material, Lawry says, would need to be replaced more frequently. Despite its popularity, the walking and running track has held up well since The Centre opened its doors in 2002.

"It's in good shape," he says. "It's a good product. We visited different recreation centers [for recommendations.]"

The Centre of Elgin's maintenance program for its indoor track is a common one that is good for the track and good for the joints of the people who use it: It mandates walking and running in different directions depending on the day of the week.

"If you keep walking in the same direction, the track will eventually start moving on you because you are always walking in one direction," he says. "It's a flexible, pliable product, and it can move on you."

Dance floor-as you like it

In the tile carpeted banquet facility, which can seat up to 300 people, The Centre offers a snap-lock dance floor that fits together like a puzzle.

It's plastic, black and shiny and can be as big as 24 feet by 24 feet. It features raised edges so people do not trip on their way out to shake a tail feather.

Often, though, the full-size dance floor isn't needed. The snap-lock system gives the banquet facility's customers the versatility they need.

"If you want to do something on a smaller scale, we can make it," Carlstedt says. "It is more flexible."

It is also easy to maintain and easy to store on pallets. It's equally simple to assemble for events like the Saturday evening salsa classes.

Kitchen flooring

Adjacent to the banquet center is a full-service kitchen, not just for those preparing meals for wedding receptions or other functions but also for cooking classes. Currently, The Centre of Elgin is sponsoring cooking classes for its special recreation programs for those with mental handicaps in an effort to promote self-sufficiency.

Though the kitchen does not seem like an obvious room for recreation, the floor was chosen as carefully as the floors throughout the rest of the facility.

Rust-colored clay tiles line the floor of the kitchen, tiles that are "very hard to slip on," Lawry says. If The Centre did not offer classes in the space, he says planners would have chosen the less expensive concrete.