Legislators deliver final construction funding for Eastside Community Center
January 19, 2018Attention now turns to completing private fundraising for the program endowment
The Washington Legislature’s approval of a construction budget Thursday includes the final $3.7 million needed to complete the new Eastside Community Center.
“After years of hard work by the community, this is it! The Legislature has provided the last dollars needed to complete the construction funding for the new center,” said Andrea Smith, president of the Metro Parks Board of Park Commissioners. “We are grateful for the leadership by Representative Jake Fey and Senator Steve Conway, for the bipartisan support from the Pierce County legislative delegation, and from Governor Jay Inslee, who included it in the original budget proposal sent to the Legislature. This is a well-deserved investment in Tacoma’s Eastside.”
Metro Parks is building the $31 million, 55,000 square-foot community center on the campus of First Creek Middle School at the intersection of Portland Avenue and East 56th Street. The project shares funding, land and programming resources from Tacoma Public Schools, the City of Tacoma, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, and the Tacoma Housing Authority.
“The Legislature’s support means we are on our way to meet our goal of more than doubling the number of kids we serve on Tacoma’s Eastside,” said Carrie Prudente Holden, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, which will move its Eastside Boys & Girls Club program from rented space in a nearby church to the new center. “This week, we took some of our Club kids on a tour through the construction site. They cannot wait for it to open!”
Construction began last summer, and the building is on track to open in late summer of this year. If the Legislature had not approved the state grants, Metro Parks and its partners faced the prospect of cutting other community projects.
For Shalisa Hayes, approval of the state’s construction budget brings some closure. She jumpstarted this project after her teenage son, Billy Ray Shirley III, was taken by gun violence in 2011, and she and her son’s friends organized as Team Billy Ray to fulfill his dream of a building a safe place for young people to gather, play and grow.
“Billy Ray’s friends went with me to Olympia a few years ago to ask for help, and the Legislature brought in the first dollars to get this project started,” Hayes said. “Now the Legislature has provided the final construction dollars so that we can build an amazing community center. Team Billy Ray thanks our local legislative delegation and Governor Inslee for stepping up and delivering for the community.”
The new center will feature a gym, indoor pool, social hall, teaching kitchen, fitness rooms and a recording studio. Metronome Coffee, a popular Tacoma coffee hangout, will operate the center’s café.
With construction funding set, attention is now focused on the Imagine Eastside campaign that is raising private funding to support the Boys & Girls Clubs’ goal of serving twice as many kids as it does today. More information is available at ImagineEastside.org.
“This investment in the Eastside of Tacoma is a game changer that will improve lives for years to come,” said City Council Member Catherine Ushka, a member of the project steering committee. “Imagine Eastside shows what we can accomplish when we all work together for the common good.”
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Hunter George, Metro Parks Chief Communications Officer, (253) 305-1065; email@example.com