PHOENIXVILLE - This season's remaining boys and girls basketball home games will be moved to other venues because of water damage to the Phoenixville Area High School gym.

Part of the facility will be be used for gym classes and wrestling meets except during a two- or three-day period when the wood flooring is torn up and replaced.

Three boys games and four girls contests were scrubbed from the high school gym and moved elsewhere.

The Phoenixville Fire Department and the Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Company responded to an alarm at the PAHS at appoximately noon on Sunday. The flooding was apparently caused by a malfunctioning steam heater that spilled water into a hallway. Water eventaully reached the gym flooring from beneath a doorway.

Joannne Doherty, assistant athletic director and interim athletic manager, was concerned that warping of the wood surface had caused "rough spots and ripples" that might lead to injury.

She said that when basketball players might "cut" on the damaged flooring there was a fear that sneakers would become caught on an edge and cause a "dangerous" situation and possible knee injuries.

PAHS Principal Richard Kaskey said that the school's students were taking the loss in stride. "Students seem to be doing fine," said Kaskey. "They understand that things like this happen and it's nobody's fault. They understand that we're trying to be accommodating and give classes in the best way we can."

Phantom wrestlers were victorious in the PAHS gym on Wednesday night, and the girls varsity basketball team was forced to give away home court advantage on Thursday in a loss to Perkiomen Valley.

The girls "piggybacked" Thursday's game against Perkiomen Valley to the opponent's venue along with a previously scheduled Varsity Boys basketball away game.

The Phantom girls games scheduled for Jan. 17 at home will be moved to Upper Perkiomen High School today. The JV game will start at 11 a.m. and the varsity will start at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Ron Miller, PASD Director of Operations said that until the moisture beneath the floor "rises and comes to the top," the district will have to wait to determine the extent of the damage.

Five or six holes in the roughly 10-year old wood floor were cut into the flooring surface under the bleachers to help speed the drying process. Miller said that the normal life expectancy of a wood gym floor is approximately 20 years.

Miller said that Miller Flooring of Collegeville (no relation) might start work in two weeks and that the actual installation of the floor might only last two or three days. He said that the wood floor would then need to cure in its new environment, which might last two to four weeks, before being used.

The district will be responsible for the cost of a $2,500 deductible, and the district's insurance carrier will be liable for the rest, acording to Miller.

Miller speculated that only part of the floor will need to be replaced and that the floor will continue to be made of wood. He said that a synthetic floor surface will be installed at Schuylkill Elementry School to insure that a similar problem wouldn't occur at that facility, which will be equipped with fire sprinklers.

The gym floor suffered water damage two years ago during construction at the highschool, according to Miller. A contractor had disassembled a roof drain and plugged water had entered a storage closet and then the gym floor. In that instance, approximatley 150 square feet of flooring was replaced.

Kaskey was especailly thankful that there have been no complaints from community organizations that had previously blocked time slots in both the high school and middle school gyms.

High school basketball practice has been moved to the middle school until repairs are made.

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