After switching contractors earlier this year, the Garden City Family YMCA dome was re-inflated May 10 for the first time in months — this time with a new, and YMCA officials hope, more structurally sound fabric.

The dome, a multi-purpose athletic facility long planned by the YMCA, is expected to open in about two months, though there is no set-in-stone timeline moving forward, said Chad Knight, YMCA CEO. Now that the dome is reinflated, contractors still have to install the gym floor, lighting, electrical system and insulation, netting between the space’s athletic courts and outer fencing and landscaping, as well as conduct a final walk-through, he said.

Once the dome is ready to open, there will be a grand opening event, which the YMCA will announce online and through a news release, Knight said. After the event, the facility will be open to the public, likely from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., he said. When school starts, it will act as a shared athletic space between the YMCA and Kenneth Henderson Middle School, as planned since its inception.

In February, Knight told the Garden City USD 457 Board of Education that the YMCA would break ties with Charter Matrix, the dome manufacturer and contractor that was signed onto the project since before it was fully funded. He claimed the work Charter Matrix had done was poor and that the YMCA planned to pursue litigation against the company for allegedly not using an agreed-upon material.

Knight said the YMCA is still pursuing litigation but would not comment on details, including the results of a report studying the original dome material. He said he has not had contact with Charter Matrix President Jim Roesner since December.

Roesner told The Telegram previously that he has record of written authorization from Knight to use a new, stronger, higher-quality fabric and denies breaching contract.

Knight has said previously that Charter Matrix has caused delays in the project and told the school board in February that the manufacturer’s work was “horrid,” pointing to the dome fabric coming unattached in three corners and along doorways, a damaged inner membrane and a burst seam.

He said Thursday the new fabric, Tedlar secured and reinforced by a cable net system, is sturdier than the Charter Matrix fabric, and is “exactly how we originally designed it.” The fabric and workmanship, this time provided by the manufacturer Air Structures American Technologies, Inc., or ASATI, was much better than Charter Matrix’s.

“It’s ten times better. Night and day. Not even a comparison ... ” Knight said. “We didn’t have the best of the best before. We paid for a Cadillac model and got a Pinto model last time.”

The new dome cost the YMCA an additional $200,000 on top of the roughly $500,000 it paid Charter Matrix. The YMCA will pursue some kind of fundraising efforts to cover the extra costs, Knight said, but he was not sure exactly what at this time.

Once completed, the dome will be a shared space for Garden City USD 457 and the YMCA, open to KHMS activities during school hours and to the YMCA at all other times. The 118-by-223-foot facility will consist of three multipurpose courts for basketball, volleyball, soccer and tennis, a line of baseball and softball batting cages and a walking track.


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