As construction on new Eastside Community Center continues, public invited to give input on future of Portland Avenue Community Center and Park

Second in series of public meetings scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Portland Avenue center

Carpenters are busily building forms for the future foundation of Eastside Community Center while shovels, bulldozers and huge dump trucks dig a hole for the 55,000-square-foot building, its state-of-the-art swimming pool, culinary kitchen, gym and sound recording studio.

The second in a series of three public meetings about what that means for the future of Portland Avenue Community Center and Park will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Portland Avenue center, 3513 Portland Ave., Tacoma.

Operating and maintaining the new center will require shifting staff and programming from the Portland Avenue Community Center, as well as from the old Eastside Pool, which is housed on the campus of the shuttered Gault Middle School. With this in mind, Metro Parks is spending the summer talking with – and listening to – neighbors in the area as it considers the old community center’s and park’s futures.

Image courtesy Metro Parks

Image courtesy Metro Parks

Metro Parks managers heard valuable input during the first public meeting on June 29 and hope to have another productive conversation on August 5 and to discuss the feedback to date with attendees. Because space was limited during the first meeting, the Aug. 5 meeting will take place in a larger room. Informational postcards are being mailed to nearby residents. The cards also are available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Khmer and Russian and will be distributed in Tacoma’s Eastside neighborhood; please contact Portland Avenue Community Center at (253) 591-5391 to request cards. A third public meeting will be scheduled later.

Metro Parks also is using on-site surveys, social media channels and discussions with neighborhood groups as part of the outreach. The intention is to learn from each other and identify possible solutions that meet the overall needs of the neighborhood. The goal is to develop solutions that serve the needs of the neighborhood in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner before staff take any recommendations to the Board of Park Commissioners for decisions.

New community center moving forward

The new Eastside Community Center, on the campus of First Creek Middle School, is scheduled for completion next summer. The gleaming new facility will host programs for the Fifty and Better community and, through a groundbreaking partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, will more than double the number of East Side children served. It will also be more than seven times larger than the existing, 7,400-square-foot Portland Avenue Center.

Through the programs and services provided by Metro Parks, Boys & Girls Club, and other partners, the new center will offer new and expanded opportunities in a part of Tacoma that needs it most, and has seen only disinvestment in its past.

Before the new center opens, we still have a lot of work to do. We must continue to raise millions of dollars to support ongoing programming for youth. And local artists Christopher Jordan and Kenji Stoll are working with young people to create an art strategy for the new center.

Metro Parks is grateful for all of the support and feedback from residents, donors, partner agencies, students, and everyone else who has contributed to the vision of an incredible place to gather, play, learn and grow on the East Side. Stay tuned for an invitation to an exciting construction celebration!

– Metro Parks