NORTH RIDGEVILLE - Belgium is known for its diamonds, but gymnasium floors?
At St. Peter Catholic Church`s Kitt Hall, youths will be exercising on a gym floor that was shipped over the Atlantic Ocean from a country bordered by France, Germany and The Netherlands.
St. Peter`s Athletic Director Jerry Hansen thought a solid gym floor could be purchased locally, but as it turns out, the best products for the Kitt Hall gymnasium floor came from thousands of miles away.
"I have not seen this (type of floor) in a lot of gyms," Hansen said, noting that St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Lorain had a similar floor installed awhile back.
According to Hansen, Kitt Hall was first opened for use in 1976, and the deteriorating tile floor had never been replaced. So for nearly six years, church officials worked on a plan to get a new one, Hansen said.
With the support of St. Peter Catholic Church`s pastor, The Rev. Stephen Kaminski, the dream has become a reality.
Construction started in early September, and the floor was shipped in mid-September.
The new floor is made up of multiple layers, with the main component being a thick cushion that is covered with a petroleum-based sealer to create a hard surface.
"The sealers and layers are petroleum-based, but they are actually polyurethanes. We had to wait one month for the paint to be shipped from Belgium," Hansen said, pointing to the gym floor.
The gym is used 180 days during the school year for physical education classes and sporting events and an additional 60 times during the year for activities such as fish fries, chicken barbecues and craft bazaars.
"We needed it to be functional, and that is one of the reasons we did not go with a wood floor," Hansen said. "Father Kaminski picked this type of floor because it will last indefinitely. It can be repainted and refinished. It`s the same cost as a wood floor, but the cost to maintain a wood floor is more expensive."
The new gym floor will cost between $110,000 and $120,000. The St. Peter Sports Association is paying for the floor, and to date has contributed $72,000 toward the cost.
"We will borrow the rest of the money to try to beat the rising cost of the petroleum-based products in the composition of the floor. It will be our debt to pay back (because) as of today, no money has come from the parish coffers," Hansen said. "However, Father Stephen Kaminski has been tremendously supportive of our organization and our fundraising efforts and has helped by letting us keep the funds generated by sports events in the building."
On Monday, employees from Corporate Floors, based in Independence, were busying painting the floor by hand to get it finished in time for this weekend`s turkey raffle sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.
One of the final steps of the floor process is painting the emblem in the center of the floor.
St. Peter parishioner Jim Gundlach was the mastermind behind the new Saints emblem, the school`s mascot.
"I have had kids in St. Peter School for 11 years. One is now in high school at Elyria Catholic, the other is in eighth grade. Over the years, I have created or updated a number of school logos," Gundlach said.
Gundlach has been a graphic designer for 25 years and was approached by Kaminski to create the emblem.
"I think it is important that parents get involved and share the skills that they have. My wife and I have worked on a great many projects over the years that I believe truly made a difference at St. Peter," he said.
One teacher from St. Peter Catholic School who has been counting the days until the new floor is complete is physical education teacher Pam Nolan.
Nolan has patiently been watching the floor installers and painters over the past two months.
"I have been holding gym class any place that is available - the church basement, library, band room - any place with an open spot," Nolan said. "I am excited for the kids to see it."
Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7155 or email@example.com.