By Eric PilgrimMay 9, 2018
Those who enjoy working out at Gammon Physical Fitness Center have seen some changes lately.
A big canopied wall has been erected between the workout equipment and the locker rooms and showers, access to upstairs equipment has been blocked, and the swimming pool is no longer accessible.
The reason for the wall, say officials at Fort Knox Directorate of Public Works and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, is so contractors can safely renovate and upgrade the locker rooms and showers without having to close the facility.
"The locker room is an old facility. It was built in the early '50s," said Cliff Collins, DPW's lead architect for the project.
The approximate 2,800-square-foot area being renovated contained an office, medium-sized women's changing room and a large men's changing room. The area was designed to provide showers, restrooms and lockers that linked patrons to both the swimming pool and the exercise equipment.
"We had failing plumbing in the locker room areas. In other words, the floor drains were not built to capacity, so we're going back with larger floor drains and larger piping to handle that," Collins said. "Both the male and female rooms are being enlarged to meet [Americans with Disabilities Act] requirements."
Part of the problem DFWMR officials asked DPW to address was how patrons gained access to the pool and exercise areas through the locker rooms. Patrons were forced to pass through what Collins calls gang showers -- a big open area with multiple shower heads protruding from pillars or walls. This created privacy concerns, especially for families with young children.
The new facility will provide a pathway where patrons walk by the shower room rather than through it to gain access to the pool or gym. It will also have upgraded facilities for men and women and a new addition to the center -- family facilities.
"What we're doing now is we're making it a little bit more family-friendly by constructing individual shower stalls to provide privacy," said Collins. "There will be a slight decrease in the shower heads [by two] but the shiny side of that coin is, they're private, and they're ADA-accessible."
The project started April 2 and, according to Collins, is scheduled to conclude around Aug. 2. Officials admit there have been some complaints about the construction project since it began.
One workout area that raised the ire of some patrons was upstairs, where the TRX A-frame, climbing equipment and punching bag were located. Facility managers and employees worked to alleviate some of the frustration felt by patrons who use that area.
"We brought some of the smaller items downstairs, where we could find space," said one of the employees.
Still, others complained about inaccessibility to the locker rooms themselves.
"There were some disgruntled customers in the first week or two, but we tried to alert the community as much as we could," said Mark Wicker, chief, Community Recreation Division at DFMWR.
Wicker said the seriousness of the plumbing issues, however, warranted starting the construction soon. Timing of the construction revolved around the high school swim season.
Fort Knox High School and four area high schools use Gammon to train their swimmers -- Meade County, North Hardin, Central Hardin and John Hardin. As a result, an additional construction project has been added: raising the height of the six swimming blocks to meet high school competition standards.
Wicker added that, other than a pool, there are three other physical fitness centers on post that provide virtually the same services as Gammon -- Smith, Natcher and Otto.
"I hope [patrons] understand. We certainly understand that people have a favorite [gym], but this is just temporary and much needed," said Wicker. "If there is a perfect time to do this, now would be it."