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On Sept. 23, come celebrate construction of the new Eastside Community Center

September 13, 2017

Everyone in Tacoma is invited to a community celebration to mark the beginning of construction for Eastside Community Center, a $31 million facility going up on the campus of First Creek Middle School. The event takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, right across from the construction site on the school’s campus at 1801 E. 56th St.

“We all have something great to celebrate now that construction of the Eastside Community Center is underway,” said Andrea Smith, president of the Board of Commissioners for Metro Parks Tacoma, which is coordinating the project. “For years, the Eastside has endured the loss of key services and amenities. But now, through the combined efforts of public and private partners, we’re creating a center that will attract the entire community and offer activities all ages will enjoy.”

Besides Metro Parks, the unusual public-private partnership includes Tacoma Public Schools, the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma Housing Authority, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, the Greater Metro Parks Foundation, and private donors. Spurred by the vision of a young man named Billy Ray Shirley, and Team Billy Ray, it has been a community effort from day one.  When it opens in 2018, the 55,000-square-foot center will offer people throughout the community a swimming pool, gym, after-school activities, cooking classes, a playground, nature hikes and much more.

The celebration Sept. 23 will not only put a spotlight on the rising community center, but also will showcase the talents of youthful Tacoma performers, who will entertain on stage with music, dance, drumming and spoken word presentations. People can have fun on an obstacle course, flag football games and – for teens and adults – bubble soccer. There will also be an abundance of art projects and crafts for people to enjoy, along with free food and beverages for the first 500 people.

Young ambassadors from First Creek Middle School will act as tour guides. They’ll talk about the community center and escort visitors to a second-floor viewing area of the construction site.

There will be plenty of opportunities to talk with community members who have pushed the project forward and to learn about the building’s design and amenities. The community center will feature a huge swimming pool; a multi-use gymnasium; a culinary kitchen; an audio-recording studio; creative space for visual arts, music, theater and dance; a social hall and party rooms (for weddings and other community rentals); and rooms for  fitness classes, weight lifting and cardio-vascular exercise. The new facility will allow Boys & Girls Clubs to double the number of children served on Tacoma’s Eastside. Fundraising efforts are still going on to support the long-term success of the Boys & Girls Clubs youth programing.

In case of rain, activities will move indoors to First Creek Middle School.


Good news! The Family Investment Center is now a shuttle stop to get to the Eastside Community Center celebration on Saturday. Thanks to Tacoma Housing Authority for supporting #ImagineEastside.

Because on-campus parking is limited, drivers are encouraged to carpool and park across the street at the Bethlehem Baptist Church, 4818 Portland Ave. Shuttles will move people parked at the church to and from the school campus throughout the event and at its conclusion.

The church and the neighboring U.S. Army Reserve Center, 5119 E. Portland Ave., both generously offered space for the event (we’ll use the Reserve Center lot for staff and volunteers).

There will be parking available at the school as well; use the school’s main entrance on East 56th Street to reach it. Attendants will help at all locations. More options may become available; see for the latest information about parking and transportation and to get details about Eastside Community Center.


  • What: Eastside Community Center construction celebration
  • When: 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23.
  • Where: First Creek Middle School, 1801 E. 56th St., Tacoma
  • Cost: Free
  • Information:  or (253) 305-1092